Watford Ladies put in a spirited performance but were knocked out of the FA Women’s Cup by Millwall Lionesses, who won 3-1 after extra-time at Berkhamsted FC’s Broadwater ground.
Naomi Cole opened the scoring for the visitors, however Anneka Nuttall’s equaliser ensured the game would go to an extra 30 minutes.
Millwall substitute Lucy Loomes broke the deadlock in the first half of extra-time. She would then get her second and her side’s third with only seconds remaining to seal victory.
Previous meetings between the two sides have always been competitive encounters and this one was no different.
There was little to separate the teams early on; Emily Heaslip, who was returning to her former club, had a powerful long-range effort saved by Trippoli Witney, while Stacie Donnelly put a couple of chances wide for Watford.
Donnelly then almost opened the scoring on the half-hour mark, forcing opposition keeper Sarah Quantrill into a good diving save to her left.
Another player making her return to Watford, Dawn Mallett, went close just before the break. A little fake gave the midfielder a bit of space but she could only shoot straight at Witney.
While it was a half where both defences had impressed, it was still a good watch for the 243 fans inside Broadwater.
Millwall started the second period well and opened the scoring after 53 minutes. Ashlee Hincks sent a good ball in from the free-kick and Cole got up to head home past Witney, with a little help from the post.
While the Lionesses had been on top for the opening stages, that momentum soon swung and it was Watford who enjoyed the best of the play midway through the half.
When the Lady Hornets did equalise with just over 20 minutes to play, most of the team played a part in it.
Mollie Burgess and Amber Tullett both managed to avoid pressure to get the ball forward into midfield. Courtnay Ward-Chambers was then picked out on the right and she played a lovely pass towards Nuttall, who beat Quantrill one-on-one, to make the score, 1-1.
By this stage, the team were playing with plenty of confidence. Another great move only a few minutes later almost put the Golden Girls ahead.
Some lovely interchange in midfield between Phoebe Read and Donnelly resulted in Ellie Mason being put through. Quantrill managed to get something on the forward’s shot but it looked to still be heading in, however it agonisingly slowed down in the conditions and was cleared off the line.
The last chance in normal time fell to Loomes, fortunately she could only shoot straight at Witney and the keeper allowed no rebound.
With nothing to separate the teams, the match went into extra-time to see who would progress to the fourth round.
Midway through the first half of extra-time, Millwall took the lead again. A set-piece was headed on by Lilli Maple at the near post, with Loomes getting the final touch in the six-yard box to give her side the lead.
The Watford defence had impressed all game and both Nicole Pepper and Tullett kept the game alive by clearing off the line.
Despite tired legs on the pitch, everyone in a yellow shirt fought to find a way to level it up but just couldn’t find a way past a resolute Millwall back line.
Loomes then made it 3-1 with mere seconds left to play. A long ball from Quantrill found its way through to the forward, who calmly slotted past Witney.
The final whistle soon followed and while there was no reward for the performance, there’s certainly plenty to be encouraged about ahead of the 2016 WSL2 season.
Watford: Witney, Pepper, Wotton, M Burgess, Tullett, Read, Donnelly (Deacon 106), Ward-Chambers (Kerr 80), Nuttall, Littleboy, Mason. Subs not used: S Burgess, Cattle, Samuels.
Millwall: Quantrill, Cowan, Robe, Cole, Strugnell, Carlton, Heaslip (Maple 74), Mallett (Loomes 61), Gibbons, Babajide (Sherwood 80), Hincks. Subs not used: Brooks, Harford.
Match Attendance: 243