Sunday 19 March 2017

Report: Bristol City Women 5-0 Millwall Lionesses

City Women progress through to the quarter final of the SSE Women's FA Cup after beating WSL2 side Millwall at home.

Bristol City romped to victory over Millwall Lionesses in the fifth round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup, a match that also served as their first competitive fixture of the season.

While the WSL1 Spring Series doesn’t begin until April, the Vixens competitive start to 2017 came against a team they did the double over last season in WSL2, winning by a 2-1 margin in both league games.

Bristol City named a strong starting eleven, featuring new signing Millie Turner and centre-back Jas Matthews’ first competitive match in over two years, with a bench boasting two of last season’s standout players in Chloe Arthur and Millie Farrow.

It didn’t take long for City to assert control over the game; a low driven cross from Claire Emslie in the sixth minute caused havoc in the Millwall box, and after a scramble, the ball was turned in by debutant Turner. The Lionesses’ attempt to reply moments later saw Ella Rutherford broke free, but she was only able to shoot tamely at City keeper Caitlin Leach.

City’s attacking trio of Olivia Fergusson and Lauren Hemp on the wing with Emslie in the middle menaced Millwall throughout the first-half, breaking forward again and again. Right-back Frankie Brown’s cross on sixteen minutes looked like it might creep into the top-left hand corner and evade Lionesses keeper Sarah Quantrill, but drifted wide.

Just a minute later, City made it two, as the ball came to Lauren Hemp following a corner. After a lovely turn inside the box to evade a Millwall defender, her shot was saved by Quantrill – but she made no mistake with the rebound to give City a 2-0 lead. This was followed quickly by 3-0 as Millie Turner headed in her second on 19 minutes, courtesy of an Emslie cross.

Service continued to be rife from City’s flanks, particularly from Fergusson; just a minute later as her cross found Hemp, whose shot was blocked to deny her a second goal in five minutes. Millwall had a sniff of a chance after 22 minutes as Ashlee Hincks free-kick (following a foul by Matthews) went narrowly over. Hemp was thwarted five minutes later as her shot from yet another Fergusson cross was blocked.

A heavy touch on 32 minutes from Turner almost let Millwall in, but Bonnie Horwood sent her shot harmlessly wide from outside the box. At the other end, Emslie very nearly curled in a wonderful shot from the outside-right corner of the area on 35 minutes, but it struck the top left of Quantrill’s bar.

As the half drew to a close, some good work from Emslie to win back the ball reinvigorated a City attack, ending in Jodie Brett heading narrowly over in dramatic fashion from Hemp’s cross. A short stoppage for a slight injury to Millwall’s Jordan Butler tied up the half, with City looking fully in control.

A lively start to the second-half saw Jodie Brett’s shot beaten away by Quantrill; the resulting corner led to Georgia Evans driving wide from just outside the area. Emslie curled wide in her quest for a goal, while a Millwall free kick in a promising position on the hour mark was curled far over Leach’s bar by Hincks.

Hemp was also pushing for another, blazing over five minutes later, and she got her wish after another five minutes with a bizarre goal struck practically from the corner flag on the left wing which (against the wind) drifted and found the top-right corner.

Not to be outdone, Emslie stepped up to a free kick after Hemp was fouled just outside the area, but her effort was saved by Quantrill. But the Millwall stopper was only able to beat the ball into the path of Jodie Brett, who smashed it into the roof of the net to put the Vixens 5-0 up. It proved to be her last contribution as she was substituted for new signing Lily Agg.

The final few minutes saw Georgia Evans winded by a collision with a Millwall player, and Hemp flash a cross along the goalmouth, but ultimately City saw out the game comfortably to preserve their clean sheet.

After the game, City manager Willie Kirk praised the performances of his players, while acknowledging areas for improvement. “We wanted them to lift it a bit in the second-half.

“In the latter stages of the first half, it felt like the game had died a little bit and we wanted them to refocus and play against themselves, rather than against a team they were leading 3-0.

“We wanted to make sure that we didn’t concede, because that would have been a sign of being sloppy & unprofessional, and we didn’t.

“There’s still aspects which could have been better, but it’s the first game of the season, so it’s a really good start and we can build on that now.”

City Women now progress through to the quarter-finals of the SSE Women’s FA Cup. The Vixen’s opponent will be drawn tomorrow at 11am.

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