Millwall Lionesses remain unbeaten in FA Women’s Super League 2 after edging out Durham at St Paul’s Sports Ground
Midfielder Leigh Nicol’s long-range strike put the hosts ahead before half-time and Billie Brooks’ header doubled their advantage early in the second half.
Beth Hepple gave Durham hope with an immediate reply but Ashlee Hincks’ free-kick restored the lead, only for Jordan Atkinson’s solo finish to set up a tense finale.
Durham missed the chance to go level on points with the second-placed Lionesses ahead of next week’s WSL 2 break for round four of the SSE Women’s FA Cup.
Durham fashioned the first chance of the game but Becky Salicki could only smash wide from Emily Roberts’ cross.
The opener came on 20 minutes when Nicol picked the ball up 30 yards out and let fly, sending her first goal of the season in off the bar.
On 47 minutes, Brooks rose highest to head home Hincks’ free-kick from deep on the right.
Yet the deficit was halved when Hepple fired low past Sarah Quantrill on 51 minutes and Zoe Ness almost drew the visitors level but could only shoot wide when well-placed.
Millwall moved clear again when Hincks fired in a free-kick that Helen Alderson could only fumble into her own net.
Substitute Rianna Dean had the ball in the net for the Lionesses, only to see the assistant’s flag raised for an infringement.
Only minutes after coming on, Atkinson beat three players on the left, cut inside and curled the ball home to set up a nervy finale but the hosts held on.
WHAT THEY SAID;
Millwall midfielder Leigh Nicol said: “It’s a fantastic way to open my account for the club. I try those in training all the time and they usually hit the corner flag.
“I didn’t think it was going to in but it bounced up against the net, so I got lucky with that one.
“It was a really tough game. I don’t know if I like scoring that early on, because you don’t know whether to go for it or sit back and absorb some pressure but we did well to see it out until half-time without conceding.
“We’re full of confidence and belief at the minute around the board. We’ve played them three times before and never got a point off them, so it means a lot to us.
“It was definitely the toughest game of the season and we knew it would be beforehand.”
Durham midfielder Lauren Briggs added: “It was a frustrating, very hard 90 minutes for us.
“I just think, on the pitch, you can’t fault our commitment – we have put everything into that game.
“Yes, our keeper (Helen Alderson) has made a mistake but we had ample opportunities to put goals away in the second half.
“It shows our reaction that we went down to 3-1 and brought it back to 3-2, I think we had the desire and I’m sure that when they come up to ours in Durham, we’ll have them and end their unbeaten run.
“At the end of the day, the league is only a third of the way through. We’ve got to play Doncaster twice as well.
“We’ll always have the mindset that we can win and we still believe we can win this league, and we’ll continue believing that.”
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