Gillingham Ladies Reserves were beaten 3-0 by Tottenham Hotspur Ladies during a blustery Sunday afternoon at the Village Community Sports Club in Hoo.
Gills Reserves fought for every ball in the opening stages of the game as both teams sought to gain an early advantage in the game.
Spurs presented a challenge early on for Gills, with their experience showing in their passing choices, physical play and runs off the ball. Gillingham defended well, squeezing Spurs play and reducing their time on the ball.
Charlotte Long fed the ball straight through the Tottenham defence into the path of Megan Carroll who smartly anticipated the ball, brought it down and ran on goal. The Spurs keeper reacted quickly to come of her line and clear the danger.
Emily Laker, Long and Carroll continued to carry the Gills attack line well, pressurising Tottenham’s play from the top to induce some loose passes to pick up on and counter attack.
Tottenham produced the game’s best opening with a long ball over the top. A Spurs attacker successfully defeated the offside trap but was denied after Courtney Shanley confidently ran off her line to smother the ball at her opponent’s feet.
Gills were just inches from taking the lead moments later as Laker chested the ball, drove down the right hand side before lobbing the keeper from range. The Spurs keeper managed to tip the ball onto the crossbar, before it bounced into the path of Carroll who followed the effort in.
Carroll couldn’t find the clinical touch to poke the ball past the keeper and Spurs cleared their lines.
Gillingham began to look for more width in the game, exploiting Laker and Sophie Brown’s pace to cause headaches for the Spur’s defence when they were on the ball.
For Gillingham, the trickery and pace of Tottenham’s centre forward provided some tough tests. Particuarly down the right, Connie Lewin was able to break up parts of Spur’s attack to frustrate play.
Gillingham’s next opportunity came after a great cross field ball from Brown found Laker on the edge of the box. Laker brushed off her marker and launched a right footed effort that blazed over.
Some great pressure from centre forward Carroll induced a forced error from the Spurs back four as the ball scrambled about in the area, Carroll was able to curl the ball around the keeper but she managed to scramble to collect the ball, denying Gills to open the scoring.
Alex Dagan produced a tricky delivery into Gillingham’s box, her cross found Charlotte Long who twisted her body to glance a header on goal but the Spurs keeper was well positioned to gather the ball.
Tottenham made their time on the ball count as they took the lead with a ball lobbed over the Gills defence. The Tottenham attacker exploited her pace to beat the offside trap to fall one on one with Shanley. The Gills keeper made herself big but the Spurs attacker finished cooly to put her side 1-0 ahead.
Gillingham responded well as Carroll chased a ball threaded over the top, chested it down and calmly finished in style. In a bizarre couple of minutes, the referee re-set play allowing the goal before consulting the lines person and adjudging an offside.
Half Time: 1-0
Tottenham came out at half time looking to press Gillingham hard, they pushed hard through a congested midfield and attempted to play the ball over the top. Shanley was on had again to protect her team in goal, coming off her line to play the ball out and avert danger.
Shanley was next confronted with a free kick 25 yards out. The stinging shot was well dealt with by the Gills keeper who positioned herself well to watch the ball throughout.
There was little to separate the two teams as Spurs began to break up Gills play with some crunching tackles as Gills were trying to construct some passing play together.
Carroll was able to fed through a ball on the edge of the box and turned her player skilfully but was ushered off the ball as the Spurs centre back effectively covered her team-mate.
Catherine Cooper was called upon to handle the pace of Spurs’ key attacker as another ball was played long from the back. Cooper showed considerable pace to stop the run on goal and place a well timed tackle. The resulting corner was well dealt with by the Gills as Emma Michelmore cleared the ball away from goal with a strong defensive header.
Gillingham were punished for poor communication in defence as Spurs crossed the ball in and a free header was dispatched into the bottom right hand corner.
Cooper and Bonnie Long worked well to diffuse the attacking pressure Spurs were applying with several testing balls.
Gillingham kept their heads up and battled for a way back into the game. As a result some productive passing play began to open up Tottenham but the final touch and pass seemed to escape the team.
Some great pressure from Michelmore after she was released on goal by Bonnie Long resulted in a free kick for Gills. Lauren WIlliams teed up Michelmore whose effort whistled over.
Tottenham secured victory as they opened up the Gills defence. A ball whipped in from the right dribbled across the six yard box for the Spurs attacker to roll into the back of the net.
A tough afternoon for the young Gillingham Ladies team but manager Bill Long’s side fought to the bitter end and were left to rue what could have been if their equalizer had been not been ruled out.
Gillingham Ladies: Courtney, Shanley, Megan Carroll, Charlotte Long (Kayleigh Galvin), Conner Lewin, Emily Laker, Bonnie Long, Alex Dagan (Lauren Williams), Rhea Vale ( Emma Michelmore), Emily Lyons, Sophie Brown, Cat Cooper
Unused sub: Rikki Page