Gillingham Ladies continued their fine form with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Portsmouth Ladies on Sunday afternoon.
Gills nearly got off to the worst of starts after the Pompey centre forward easily intercepted a short pass across the box. Luckily for Gills, Amy Taylor reacted quickly an applied enough pressure for the Portsmouth attacker to scuff her shot wide.
After a few frantic passages of play, Gills got into their stride, playing the ball on the ground and zipping the ball with crisp, accurate passing. Portsmouth struggled to get time on the ball as Gills pressed on goal.
Their best opportunity came as Jade Keogh made a great drive down the left flank before releasing Gibbons on a run towards goal. Gibbons managed to pull off a shot on target despite receiving a shove in the back.
Gibbons continued to cause Portsmouth problems with another hazy run down the left unlocking their back four’s defensive line.
Gills’ midfield played a vital role in steering moment the home side’s way. The central combination of captain Jay Blackie, Danielle Carlton and Emma Tune making several crunching tackle and anticipating loose passes to snatch possession for the Gills.
Blackie’s determination to win the ball and direct play was rewarded as Gillingham Ladies captured the game’s first goal.
Blackie hassled the ball from Portsmouth before threading a ball through a sea of players and into the path of Gills’ top scorer Charlotte Gurr. Gurr sharply turned her marker to release a wonderful shot that rocketed over the outstretched keeper’s gloves.
Carlton nearly grabbed Gills a second with yet another powerful effort from a set piece. Carlton’s effort escaped all Portsmouth players and looked to be sailing into the bottom right corner but Pompey’s keeper positioned herself well, covering her inside post to gather the ball away from danger.
Gillingham’s management laid out their intent for three points with an attacking 3-5-2 formation and continued to dictate passing play as a result.
The defensive trio, Rachel Ahern, Deanna Cooper and Amy Taylor, marshalled by keeper Faye Baker defended smartly to compress Portsmouth’s attacking threat and were supported in the first half by Keogh and Lauren William’s who dropped back to support their defence when needed.
This reduced Portsmouth say on the game and it was Gillingham who produced the clear-cut opportunities. Carlton shrugged off several challenges whilst galloping towards goal, her whipped in ball found Tune six yards out from goal, but her shot rocketed over the cross bar.
Cooper got in on the attacking action as she skipped through the Portsmouth midfield and defence to launch a shot on goal but the effort lacked enough power to trouble the keeper.
Portsmouth had the opportunity to draw a goal back after they drew some space in the penalty area, Taylor popped up for Gills to make a brave block to avert danger for her side.
Gillingham responded through Gibbons who nutmegged the Portsmouth centre back before fizzing a shot that stung the keeper’s gloves to go for a corner.
The resulting corner was propelled into the box and Ahern managed to get a touch amongst the goalmouth scramble but the ball dribbled wide of the target.
Gillingham managed to extend their league before half time thanks to a fantastic solo goal from Keogh. A goal that replicated last weekend’s effort against Tottenham Ladies.
Keogh picked the ball up from the half way line and drove down the left wing before cutting the ball inside and executing a brilliant shot which floated into the back of the net.
Half time: 2-0
Gibbons almost got the Gills second half off to the perfect start as she beat the offside trap to find time and space on the left hand side. Her effort skirted the crossbar and glided wide.
Gibbons continued to demonstrate great persistence and linked up well with Carlton in several passing exchanges that dizzied the Portsmouth midfield.
Blackie lead by example to break up Portsmouth’s play on several occasions. She won her side a free kick in a very dangerous position. The tasty delivery was served to Cooper whose glided headed found Keogh who hooked the ball into the six-yard area. Gills missed the ruthless finish to push the ball past the keeper as the ball fell to Gibbons who latched a shot on target from a very tight angle. Pompey’s keeper had the angle covered however as she collected the ball from danger.
Gillingham defended as a unit as Portsmouth sought to exploit the width of the pitch and the Gills’ back three. Their success was limited however as Gills endeavoured to defend in numbers and limit Portsmouth’s time on the ball.
The game was put beyond Portsmouth’s reach as Blackie scored her second in two games with a clinical finish.
Substitute Lisa Fulgence gave Gills another dimension as she caused Portsmouth trouble in the box and flicked the ball to the Gills skipper who dispatched the effort with a sweet volley on the edge of the box. The ball flew into the top right hand corner leaving the Portsmouth keeper with no chance.
With three good goals, Gillingham continued to squeeze Portsmouth’s play and worked tirelessly to keep their shape and stand up to Pompey’s play.
And Gills could have had a fourth when Gibbons turned in the area, switched the ball onto her right foot and placed the ball towards goal. Williams followed up to toe poke the ball in but was denied a goal by the linesman’s offside flag.
Gibbons continued to exploit a tired Portsmouth defence, defeating the offside trap several times. Carlton released the Gills loanee on yet another run but the opportunity to put Gills four up was denied as the Pompey keeper dashed off her line to smother the ball.
Gills other substitute Lauren Davis made a favourable impact of the game, asking questions of the Portsmouth defence with some strong runs down the right hand side. Davis forced the keeper to make a sensible save with a chipped effort from distance.
Fulgence was inches away from extending Gillingham’s lead after Davis fed her a ball from the right. Portsmouth managed to clear their lines after a panicked few seconds.
Portsmouth’s attacking play was reduced to ambitious balls over the top. Gillingham’s defence stood strong as Carlton reverted back to right back to help secure the team’s deserved clean sheet.
Fulgence continued to threaten Portsmouth’s goal as her quality first touch controlled attacking play. Gillingham’s striker went agonisingly close again as she shrugged off her marker to pull of a great shot on goal but the ball squirmed centimetres wide.
Despite a fiery final few minutes of play, Gills Ladies kept cool to secure another three points as the game finished 3-0.
It was yet another pleasing afternoon for Gills Ladies fans who see their side top of the league for a fifth week running with an impressive 13 points out of a possible 15 collected and another accomplished team performance to relish on the journey home.
Gillingham Ladies: Faye Baker, Rachel Ahern, Deanna Cooper, Amy Taylor, Lauren Williams (Lauren Davis), Emma Tune, Jay Blackie©, Danielle Carlton, Jade Keogh, (Lisa Fulgence) Charlotte Gurr, Fliss Gibbons
Unused sub: Lauren Phillips