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Watford Ladies draw opening Women's Super League 2 season game against Millwall Lionesses
Watford Ladies were unable to make a winning start to their Women’s Super League 2 season as they were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Millwall Lionesses.
The Golden Girls started positively but fell behind in the ninth minute when some poor defending allowed Emma Whitter to run through on goal and round Shayla Burgess to give the visitors an early lead.
But the hosts were soon back on terms, levelling ten minutes later when Megan Wynne found the top corner from 20 yards.
The Lionesses then needed keeper Sarah Quantrill to make three fine saves to keep her side level at the interval, denying Jo Wilson, Sarah Wiltshire and Emma Beckett while Wiltshire also clipped the top of the crossbar.
But Watford did go in front for a first time within two minutes of the restart when Renee Hector got on the end of a Cally Rowell free-kick to a loop a header home.
The lead was to prove shortlived though, as the Lionesses equalised in somewhat fortuitous fashion when Sophie Perry netted with a cross-cum-shot.
Both sides tried to find a winner but quality chances were at a relative premium thereafter as Watford had to settle for a point.
After a 15-minute delay to kick-off due to the transport problems at Euston, the Golden Girls started their inaugural Women’s Super League 2 campaign confidently, creating an early chance when Wiltshire played in Kate Natkiel from the right. She let the ball run across her body but screwed her left-footed attempt wide.
The hosts continued to be positive but they fell behind in the ninth minute when Whitter capitalised on a poor mix-up and hesitancy between Bonnie Horwood and Hector and rounded keeper Shayla Burgess to tap home.
Watford weren’t too far away from equalising four minutes later when Wynne almost got on the end of a low centre from Wiltshire. But it was Wynne who was to get her side back on terms in fine fashion in the 19th minute, sending a rising drive into the top corner of the net from around 20 yards after Beckett’s header had been half-cleared.
Millwall suffered a blow midway through the half when scorer Whitter was forced out of the contest with an injury but while the visitors were preparing to make a change, the hosts spurned a fine opportunity to take the lead.
Lionesses were opened up on the counter as Wynne put Wilson through on goal, she tried to finish across Quantrill but the keeper saved well with her legs.
The visitors made their change in the 27th minute as Shivega Edwards came on for Whitter, who was unable to limp back around the pitch and needed to be stretchered back to the changing rooms.
But it was the home side who continued to look the more likely to net a second and Quantrill was again called into action in the 35th minute when she dived to her left to keep out a stinging Wiltshire free-kick from 25 yards.
And two fine saves became three minutes later when the Millwall keeper reacted superbly to keep out Beckett’s close-range diving header after Wiltshire had swung over a free-kick from the right towards the back post.
Quantrill’s opposite number had been enjoying a relatively quiet period of the game but Burgess was called into action five minutes before the break diving to her right to hold a Cherelle Albert strike from 20 yards. The Hornets keeper also had to be alert soon after to hold onto an effort from further out from Naomi Cole.
But Wiltshire’s ability from set-pieces continued to trouble the Lionesses’ rearguard and she went close again before half-time, again with a delivery from the right which was too good for Quantrill but it didn’t quite dip enough and caught the top of the crossbar before going over.
There was still time for Wiltshire to have one more effort before the interval, showing good footwork in a central position to hit a left-footed drive from 25 yards but this effort didn’t unduly trouble the Millwall stopper, who was well behind it.
The first half was entertaining and there was to be no let up after the restart as both sides scored within five minutes of the restart.
Watford struck first inside two minutes of the resumption when Cally Rowell struck a deep free-kick from just inside the opposition half and Hector got up to send a looping header over Quantrill.
But Watford’s joy was to last less than two minutes as the visitors equalised in somewhat fortuitous fashion, Sophie Perry accelerating down the left before hitting a cross-cum-shot that caught out Burgess and nestled inside her far post to make it 2-2.
Millwall immediately made a second change as Lilly Agg came on for Kimberley Stenning but an injury to Lilli Maple forced them into a third and final replacement with Stevie Lamb coming on.
The next chance fell Watford’s way, the ball dropping for Wynne towards the far post but she was unable to lift the ball beyond Quantrill. Wiltshire then took centre stage again, twisting and turning on the right side of the area before trying a left-footed curler which drifted wide of the far post.
John Salomon made his first change in the 69th minute as Wilson made way for Magda Mosengo and it looked like a second substitution might be needed soon after when Wynne went down with a cramp, but she was able to continue.
Georgia Mays was replaced by Josie Green with 11 minutes remaining but not before a moment of discomfort for Burgess when she appeared to barged off the ball in trying to claim a free-kick but the rebound was put over the top from outside the area.
After Wiltshire and Natkiel had fired over, Salomon completed his changes as Emily Heaslip replaced Beckett. With time starting to run out though, there was another moment of alarm when a shot from distance took a nasty bobble in front of Burgess, but fortunately for the home side it went wide. Edwards then tried an audacious lob from at least 30 yards but this also cleared the target as both sides had to settle for a point.
Watford Ladies: Burgess, Mays (Green 79), Hector, Horwood, Gunn; Rowell, Beckett (Heaslip 84); Natkiel, Wiltshire, Wynne; Wilson (Mosengo 69). Not used: Blanchard and Butterwick.
Millwall Lionesses: Quantrill; Cole, Davies, Lennon, Perry; Albert, Maple (Lamb 55), Rutherford; Stenning (Agg 51), Whitter (Edwards 27), Billson. Not used: Gibbs and Strugnell.
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