Reading tame Lionesses in 3-1 victory as Ward hits double, writes DANIELLE LOWE from Beckenham Town FC
There was disappointment for Millwall Lionesses Wednesday night as they lost 3-1 to their Women’s Super League 2 rivals Reading in the League Cup.
Drama happened off the pitch before the game was even due to get underway. The Reading coach was stuck in traffic and struggled to make its way to the ground in Bromley. They managed to arrive at 7pm so the Millwall team and referee did the polite thing of postponing kick off until 8pm.
But with residents that have houses backing onto the pitch recently complaining about the regular use of flood lights late at night and the noise, the groundsman only turned on half the lights in the second half.
Unfortunately for the groundsman and residents, this caused some visiting Reading fans to bang their drum a little louder and think up unusual light and electricity based chants. Millwall fans were not best pleased either and there was a loud sigh from the 245 supporters in attendance.
With the game finally underway the Lionesses got themselves on the upper foot when they were awarded a penalty for a dubious Royals challenge in the fifth minute. Naomi Cole stepped up and hammered the ball into the bottom-left hand corner of the net, beyond the keepers reach.
After a lively first half, where players and the ball were running and blocking all over the pitch, Reading were 2-1 up thanks to Helen Ward. Her first goal was a simple tap-in from a well timed Emma Follis cross to bring the Blues level in the 20th minute while her second came from a corner in the 37th minute.
A little anger rippled through the Millwall fans and teams at the second goal after the referee ignored calls for an injured player to be looked at. It was only as it went out for a corner, several minutes after the manager’s first screams, that he went to see what was wrong. After some off the pitch treatment, Ashlee Hincks was only allowed to bring the team back to a full-strength 11 after Reading had scored.
As the away side got the second half underway and fans returned to their sears with hot drinks, nervous after a heavy downpour before the match, the Lionesses looked lively and as if they had brewed up a plan in the dressing room during the break.
It could easily have been 2-2 but Fliss Gibbons, who scored a hat-trick in last weeks cup game against London Bees, couldn’t finish as the ball was just mildly out of her reach. That chance seemed to fire the team up and they had several more attempts but it just wasn’t their day.
As the night got ever colder and the groundsman stormed around trying to get people to be quiet, Reading sealed the win when Lauren Bruton got the third goal from a short corner in the 83rd minute.
With a win under their belt Millwall still have a chance of reviving their hopes in the competition when the cup resumes in a couple of weeks time.
Reading will go into the 10-day break for the Women’s FA Cup final feeling positive about their cup chances and ability to get promoted to WSL 1, despite losing England International Fran Kirby to FA Cup hopefuls Chelsea.