By Jeff Burnige at The Den
Shannan Drewe scored twice as Millwall Lionesses scraped through to the second round after this typical banana-skin Women’s FA Cup tie against Denham United at the weekend.
Denham’s ground is also known as The Den, and this was a feisty affair with a place in the next round at stake in this 50-year-old competition which Millwall have won twice in their history.
The in-form and perhaps over-confident Lionesses were given a real fright in this game against their opponents from the L&SERWFL Division 1 North, the tier below. Denham’s direct and physical style was much better suited to a bobbly pitch with long grass, and it took an own goal from the host’s goalkeeper to seal the win for the visitors.
The home side scored within the first minute when Niamh Cashin nodded in a great header from a clumsily conceded corner, but Drewe quickly equalised with a superb left-foot strike.
Despite the early shock, Millwall persisted with a risky policy of trying to play neat football from the back, under great pressure from highly motivated opponents, the tricky conditions and not least a large and boisterous crowd. The upset the locals wanted looked a possibility when Jo Torr put Denham ahead before half-time.
Lionesses joint-managers Alex Russell and Adam Rowland demanded much greater commitment In the second half, and two goals in three minutes finally turned the tie around. Drewe scored the second equaliser with a right-foot finish after cutting in from the left on 61 minutes.
Millwall’s winner arrived two minutes later when Zara Butt mis-kicked into her own net.
That was in contrast to the calmness of the experienced Chrissie Wiggins in Millwall’s goal.
Maisie Joyce brought her own experience as a 70th-minute midfield substitute for Shay Bennett, and late in the game Summer James and sixteen-year-old Jess Edwards provided much-needed fresh legs.
Denham’s support were desperate for their side to take the tie into extra-time, but their team lost their discipline and saw two red cards in the final minutes.
Monday’s draw for the second round threw up a south London derby against Bromley, who are also a tier below, in Division 1 South. The match will be on Sunday, November 26.
Before then, this Sunday the Lionesses face in-form local rivals Dulwich Hamlet in the L&SERWFL Premier Division at St Paul’s at 1.30pm.
With no Championship game this weekend during the international break, Millwall season-ticket holders can attend for free, while the Hamlet always bring a large following to this derby match, for which, like Denham, they will be highly motivated.
Millwall expect to have Chloe Burr, Liv McGregor and Ellen Napper back for the game.
Image: Thomas West