Millwall Lionesses 2 Aston Villa 3
A highly controversial red-card cost Millwall Lionesses dearly as Aston Villa snatched a dramatic last-gasp win from the jaws of defeat at The Den on Sunday.
First-half goals from Leanne Cowan and Lily Agg looked to have put the Lionesses well on the way to a welcome victory, but the 85th-minute dismissal of Millwall skipper Naomi Cole turned the game on its head and the visitors struck twice in the dying minutes to secure maximum points.
In an entertaining opening to the match, there were chances at either end and Agg, partnering Cherelle Albert in attack for the first time, saw an early effort save by the visiting keeper.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Villa's Lauren Walker was unlucky not to connect with a dangerous cross from Hayley Crackle. Stevie Lamb went close for the hosts with a looping effort that cleared the crossbar, before Cowan popped up in the 21st
minute to net the first goal of her Lionesses career, off the underside of the bar, after Albert's initial shot had been parried by the keeper.
Millwall's lead was short-lived though and Aston Villa fashioned an equaliser just minutes later when Emma Follis' right-wing cross was deflected into the net off a Millwall defender.
Eight minutes before the interval the home side restored their lead in spectacular fashion when Agg's powerful long-range strike beat Chloe Beatie to find the back of the net.
Keeper Sarah Quantrill ensured that the Lionesses went in 2-1 ahead at the break with two fantastic saves from Tasha Baptiste and Jade Richards. Neither side looked like adding to their tally in the second-half, with the Lionesses looking good value for the win, until Villa's Katie Wilkinson went to ground just outside the box in the 85th
After lengthy consultations with his linesman - and to the disbelief of the home camp - the referee showed a straight red card to Millwall captain Cole. To add insult to injury, Wilkinson scored from the resulting free-kick to level the scores.
Villa piled on the pressure in a bid to capitalise on their numerical advantage, and despite producing a solid rearguard action, the Lionesses
were undone in injury-time when Emma Follis showed great composure to cut into the box and steal the points with a cool finish.
Quantrill; Fisk, Cole (Wheeler, 85mins), Strugnell, Mackie; Sherwood (Bilson, 60mins), Lamb, Maple, Cowan; Agg, Albert Subs not used: Ali, Edwards, Gibbs.Millwall:
Beatie; Crackle, Petrovic, Richards, Baker; Follis, Wilkinson, Cusack (Moran, 63mins), Jones, Walker (Davies, 81mins); Baptiste (Robinson, 45mins). Aston Villa Ladies:Subs not used: Cooper, Courtney, Harper, Ferguson.
Ref: P. Georgiev