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Millwall Lionesses kick-off their season in style

8 February 2016

Sawiuk's side progress to the next Round of the SSE Women's FA Cup

Millwall Lionesses opened their 2016 campaign with a 3-1 victory over Watford Ladies in the Third Round of The SSE Women's FA Cup on Sunday.

It was a day with a number of firsts for the Lionesses with Rebecca Sawiuk taking charge of her first competitive game and new signings Leighanne Robes, Emily Heaslip, Dawn Mallett and Lucy Loomes all making their debuts.

The Lionesses enjoyed the better of the first-half and had a penalty shout turned down when Heaslip tumbled over in the box. Shortly afterwards, Leanne Cowan put in a dangerous cross which Watford keeper Trippoli Witney dropped at the feet of Fliss Gibbons, who was unable to poke towards goal.

Sawiuk's side didn't have to wait long into the second-half to find the opener, however. The deadlock was broken was after 53 minutes as an free-kick from Ashlee Hincks was met by Naomi Cole, who looped a header in off the far post.

That lead didn't last long, though, as Watford countered into space 17 minutes later, with Courtnay Ward-Chambers playing a perfect ball through to Anneka Nuttal, who slotted past Sarah Quantrill to equalise.

The hosts almost turned the game completely on its head moments later with a near identical move, but captain Danielle Carlton raced back from midfield and hooked the ball off the line with Quantrill beaten.

With the game heading towards extra-time, Loomes, on as a 61st-minute substitute, could have secured a hard-fought win inside normal time but was unable to get enough power behind her shot to trouble Witney.

That meant that an added 30-minute period was necessary, and extra-time began in perfect fashion for the Lionesses as Loomes made up for that earlier missed chance when she tapped home after Lilli Maple flicked Ashlee Hincks' corner into her path.

Buoyed by going back in front, the Lionesses then had two further efforts cleared off the line, first from Carlton's header and then again to deny Loomes, but the latter then made sure of victory in injury time, making the most of a defensive mistake before slotting past Witney.

"We're really pleased to have got the win," Sawiuk told millwallfc.co.uk.

"Across the course of the 90 minutes and again in extra-time we were dominant and played possession-based football despite dealing with what was a difficult pitch.

"At half-time we changed things around tactically a little bit and deserved to then go in front.

"It was a slight lapse in concentration from us which allowed them to score, although it was a good goal, but we responded well and deserved to go on and win.

"I think we showed good quality throughout and better fitness towards the end, which was a determining factor."

Millwall Lionesses: Quantrill, Cowan, Robe, Strugnell, Mallett (Loomes, 61'), Carlton, Heaslip (Maple, 74'), Babajide (Sherwood, 80'), Hincks, Gibbons

Subs not used: Brooks, Harford

Report by Jamie Howlett

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