Fulham Women produced the perfect away performance as they beat league leaders Millwall Lionesses 3-1 this afternoon at a rainy St. Paul’s Sports Ground.
Tia Foreman continued her terrific form from last weekend’s Cup clash with AFC Wimbledon at Craven Cottage by sending in two superb corners to give the Whites a precious two-goal cushion and Steve Jaye’s side weathered plenty of home pressure after Ella Bailey halved Millwall’s arrears with a fine strike four minutes after the interval. The Cottagers claimed all three points when teenage substitute Ede Buchele brilliantly buried a third with five minutes left after unselfish wing play from Georgia Heasman.
The win was all the more impressive as Fulham were missing a number of first-team regulars through injury. Holly Cowan, deputising for Edie Cowan between the sticks, produced a vital early save from Jade Keogh’s free kick and defended her goal diligently throughout. A feisty Fulham side were first to the ball in the opening exchanges, typified by the tenacity of birthday girl Annie Thomas and Alex Hayman in the middle of the park.
The visitors took the lead when a lovely outswinging corner from Foreman found its way to Thomas, who volleyed home emphatically. Helen Ogle and Ellie Olds went close with angled drives but another devilish delivery from Foreman caused absolute chaos in the Millwall back line, with an unfortunate defender diverting the ball into her own net. A torrential downpour made the second half much more attritional and the Lionesses penned Fulham back with more direct play.
They took great encouragement from a fabulous finish by Bailey, who drove home off the inside of the post from 20 yards after a free-kick had only been half cleared. Keogh went close with a couple of dead ball efforts from distance before both Becky Stormer and Mary Southgate produced excellent pieces of defending to keep the Whites’ advantage intact. The Cottagers still carried a threat on the counter themselves: substitute Buchele forced a good save after a strong run before Hayman couldn’t quite redirect a deep cross from Olds on target.
Fulham were furious when the referee waved play on after Heasman was taken out when clean through on goal, but with Millwall throwing bodies forward in search of an equaliser – the game was becoming increasingly stretched. The Whites took advantage to make sure of a vital victory with five minutes to play when Heasman capitalised on a defensive error to drive infield from the right and find Buchele in the centre. The forward checked inside two defenders and drove a low shot home to spark delirious celebrations from the travelling supporters.
The three points sees Fulham move up to third in the London and South East Regional Women’s Premier League table, cutting the deficit to Millwall to just three points. The Whites are next in action next Sunday against Dulwich Hamlet at Motspur Park, with kick off at 2.30pm.
MILLWALL LIONESSES: Hand; Auguste, Chapman, Payne, Charles, Penfold, Kabadaki, Keogh, Welsh, Seely, Reid. Subs: Drewe, Jellett, Bailey, Connell, Williams.
GOAL: Bailey (49).
FULHAM WOMEN (4-3-3): Cowan; Allen, Foreman, Southgate, Stormer; Thomas, Lambird, Hayman; Ogle, Heasman, Olds. Subs: Kelly, Modak, Harris-Walters, Mendes, Buchele.
BOOKED: Thomas, Buchele.
GOALS: Thomas (5), own goal (32), Buchele (85).
REFEREE: David Hooker.
A great performance in an exciting and tense game. Two good teams going hell for leather at each other, and a Fulham away win at the top of the table side! What’s not to love?
Great report, the FFC team ‘stood up’ to a barage and some questionable (bordering on woeful/abject) refereeing in the 2nd half.
Well deserved win which sent the travelling supporters home in fine spirits.??