Millwall Lionesses 2-2 Gillingham (15/11/22)
Gillingham win 5-4 on penalties
Above: Millwall celebrate after scoring against Gillingham on Sunday. Photo: Keith Gillard via Millwall Lionesses.
by Kai Bennett
Millwall Lionesses manager Jack Wheeler was extremely proud of his side after they pushed Gillingham, a team from two leagues above them all the way before eventually losing 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw in extra time in their FA Cup First Round tie.
The Lionesses were ten seconds away in extra time from winning the tie before Gillingham, from the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier got their equaliser.
Millwall started well and nullified the visitors in the opening stages but halfway through the first-half Gillingham took the lead with an effort from long range from Mel Espinosa.
That wasn’t to dampen the spirits of The Lionesses and Jade Keogh’s corner that went all the way in equalised before half time.
The second half was dominated by the South London club but the Gills keeper Davies made some good saves to deny Millwall a winner in normal time.
The Lionesses took the lead, however, in extra-time when Lauren Williams won possession high before teeing up Lucy Jellett who finished brilliantly.
Serena Hand made some big stops in the last ten minutes before Gillingham equalised when the ball was tapped into an empty net, in what was heartbreak for The Lionesses.
The visitors won the game on penalties, winning 5-4 to progress to Round Two of the FA Cup.
Wheeler said: “I’m really proud of the girls, we stuck to the game plan really well and they left everything out on the pitch.
“All we asked them to do at the start of the game was to try and work as hard as they possibly could and take the game to Gillingham. We’ve watched them this week so we knew the strengths and weaknesses and how we wanted to set up and we dealt with that accordingly.
“I’m really pleased with how we did and to concede with the last kick in extra time, those fine margins make the biggest difference.
“But we learn and we move on, I’m really pleased with the team and how they stuck together really as staff and as players.
“I’m really pleased and just making sure we continue this momentum that we’ve got in terms of good positive performances and if we can do that I would back my team against anyone in this league and anyone in the league above. It shows that today from what they’ve done, both us as staff and players should be really proud of themselves today.”
Teams: MILLWALL LIONESSES: Hand, Auguste, Keogh, Payne, Connell, Chapman, Penfold, Seely, Charles, Reid, Kabadaki. Substitutes: Lewington, Giordani, Bailey, Jellett, Welsh, Williams, Moulton.
Scorers: Keogh 31′, Williams 101′.
GILLINGHAM: Davies, Peart, Ashton-Jones, Farrand, Jestin, Maslak, Grant, Copsey, Espinosa, Leitch, Haynes. Substitutes: Coombs, Pearch, Fordjour, Harrison.
Scorers: Espinosa. Second goal scorer not recorded 120′.