BY YANN TEAR
Millwall Lionesses boss Chris Phillips hailed his young side after their heart-breaking last-gasp FA Women’s Championship defeat to leaders Tottenham Ladies – saying the near-miss signalled massive progress.
The Lionesses were routed 8-0 by Tottenham in the reverse fixture last October and it led to some soulsearching and a determination to get their act together.
They are still rock- bottom of the second tier of women’s football, with only two draws to show from 13 outings as they continue to look for a first win of the campaign.
But the manner of the 3-2 loss on Sunday spoke volumes.
It took a goal from former Lioness Rianna Dean to deny the South Londoners.
“It was a cruel blow because we were so close to winning it ourselves in the last minute, but I’m so proud of them,” Phillips said.
“I can’t fault their workrate, enthusiasm and preparation. Everything they did, they did right and they deserved something out of the match.
“They played ever so well, but football can be cruel.
“The last couple of games, I feel we’ve really shown what we can do.
“It was a disaster that 8-0, but the girls have applied themselves really well ever since and we can see progress being made every week.
“They are so willing to learn.
“We have video analysis of games and, considering we have an average age of 18 there are so many good signs.
“It’s the first time a lot of them have played at this level, and as a club, we’ve had to cope with a new stadium, a new manager and virtually an entire new squad.”
Phillips, who revealed he used the men’s 3-2 FA Cup win over Everton as part of his pre-match team-talk, in order to inspire his charges, said: “The future is looking much better for us now.
“We had no pre-season and the games before Christmas were all needed to get up to speed.
“We are in a unique position because there is no relegation from the division this year, so there’s no pressure to get results, although hopefully that first win will come soon.
“There is no big target this season.
“The aim is just to keep learning, so that next season, we’ll know the level that is expected of us and we’ll give a better account of ourselves.”
There is respite from the league this week with a home tie in the Women’s FA Cup fourth round against Lewes (2pm).
“It should be another great occasion for the team,” Phillips said.
“For a lot of them it will be a first taste of the FA Cup and we will hopefully draw inspiration from the men’s great win last weekend.”