It was a very competitive game as it is always the case between those two teams with a Megan Wynne goal on the 12th minute the difference between the two sides.
Here is the goal courtesy to Millwall’s superfan Dion Farnes :
Now for the tactical set-up as it was a surprising one from Millwall. Considering they played with a back four for the whole of last season, to see them turn up with a back three was a surprise.
To me there is no doubt that the Lionesses set-up surprised the Bees.
London Bees were on top for the first ten minutes and then things started to change after the initial goal. I am not sure the Bees managed to get behind the Lionesses defence more than twice in the whole game.
This was due to a very good defensive organisation by Millwall and lack of quality passing and clinical finishing from Bees in the final third.
Millwall got a couple of chances to finish off the game, but did not get the second goal that would have put the tie beyond the Bees reach, which meant a tense second half with a lot of foul play, kicking and bookings.
The referee actually could have given a bit more bookings as he was lenient and let things get out of control a bit too much in my opinion. When wild sliding tackles start to appear, especially on a 3G, that’s were you must come in and calm things down.
So tactically, as seen on the diagram Millwall took control of the central area by the virtue of having seven players in a tight space and left the wings free for Bees to control.
Bees therefore should have had full reign on both wings with regular 2 v 1 situations, full-back and winger v wing-back, but that did not happen very often actually. It was something that puzzled me greatly. The full-backs did not overlap often, probably to protect the defense from waves of Millwall players coming from the central area.
Clearly there was congestion in the middle and Bees did not manage to put their striker Wilson in shooting positions, while Millwall used their lone striker Hincks as a link-up player to bring in all the midfielders making their runs as well as the wing-backs.
Another interesting fact in that game in both side had many left-footed players with three for Bees and two for Millwall. It actually helped on ball distribution and build up play. The goal coming from an excellent Gaylor cross from the left-wing.
The key to the game was the Lionesses ability to smother the Bees attacking threats, cutting all the passing lines and defending well the 1v1 situations that happened. On the other side, Bees did not use much the diagonal long balls, to move it away from the congested area and find the pocket of spaces where their wingers could have done some damages.
So a deserved win over 90 minutes for Millwall Lioness who will at home to Nottingham Forest Ladies in Round 4 on the 19th of February.