Gillingham Ladies begun their defence of the Kent Womens’ Cup with a 4-0 victory against Parkwood Ladies on Sunday afternoon.
The Gills made the trip to Parkwood Ladies who made the visitor’s life very difficult in the first half and performed credibly in the competition’s first round.
Gillingham dominated possession from the off but Parkwood pressurised effectively, pressing play to earn the game’s first corner.
A good ball was whipped in from the left which Amy Taylor admirably cleared with a flying header. The ball fell back into Parkwood possession as an ambitious overhead kick flew over keeper Faye Baker’s goal.
Gills looked to open the game up with Nikkita Whinnett and Lauren Williams providing problems down the wing for Parkwood to deal with.
Captain Jay Blackie came closest to securing the Gills’ opening goal as she picked the ball up on the edge of the box, carrying onto her left foot and placing a ball towards the top right hand corner. Parkwood’s goalkeeper reacted smarty, getting a strong hand to parry the ball for a corner.
Gills caused problems for themselves as they gifted possession to Parkwood on several occassions with loose passes. The Gills defence, marshalled by Baker managed to minimalize any chances Parkwood had as a result.
Gills continued to threaten on goal as Blackie fed an accurate ball through Parkwood’s defence, into the path of Lauren Williams who cut the ball across goal but the keeper had her inside post covered and managed to collect the ball before Gills strike force Lisa Fulgence and Lauren Phillips could capitalise.
Gills managed to pull one in front after Lauren Davis fought off her marker to feed an inch perfect ball to William’s whose cross reached Fulgence on this occasion. The Gills striker added to her collection of November goals by showing a lethal instinct to be in the right place at the right time and put the ball into the back of the net.
Blackie continued to orchestrate Gills’ attacks with a tantalising ball that opened the Parkwood centre back pairing in two and found Williams, who one on one with the keeper, was victim to some wasteful finishing as the ball flew over.
Williams continued to cause Parkwood problems. A slick exchange of passes between Davis and Fulgence stuttered the Parkwood defence and Williams was in on goal again. A pass back was overlooked by the referee and Parkwood were saved from going two down after 15 minutes.
Gillingham were inches away from grabbing a second as Davis placed a shot from the edge of the box that skimmed the top right hand corner.
Gills almost came unstuck after a poor pass was snatched by Parkwood. Baker pulled off a fantastic save, streching her left leg out to deflect the ball for a corner and saving her defence’s blushes.
The first half continued to fizzle out with Parkwood working extremely hard to limit Gillingham’s lead to just one goal.
Half time: 1-0
Gillingham Manager James Marrs made a triple substitution at half time brining on Charlotte Gurr, Emma Tune and Jade Keogh to stir the Gills into life in the second half.
The tactical change almost paid off within two minutes as Gills pressed Parkwood’s goal with four shots in succession being blocked and cleared as the home side defended for their lives.
The three substitutes linked up as Gurr placed a shot on target moments later before Keogh followed up the rebound with a shot. Tune’s powerful follow up strike caused the keeper to make a fantastic reaction save.
Gillingham should have been two up after Tune made a confident run down the right before unleashing a great cross which defeated the Parkwood defensive line to find the onrushing Taylor who finished emphatically but the linesman ruled out for offside.
Gillingham were beginning to string several troublesome attacks together. Next, Keogh made a dazzling run down the left to whip a sizzling cross which Gurr volleyed just off target.
Another goal mouth scramble ensued as Gillingham fought for a goal to merit their dominance. Gurr fed a pass through to Tune who took the ball down yards from goal but the Parkwood keeper reacted excellently coming out to smother the ball at the Gills midfielder’s feet.
Keogh’s pace left Parkwood exposed again moments later as she galloped down the left before cutting back to Blackie who placed a shot on the edge of the box.
Taylor turned provider from defence with an impressive run which undid Parkwood’s brave defensive effort. The Gills Ladies centre back produced a skilful cross which put the ball on a plate for Gurr to poke in.
Gills scored two in as many minutes as their next attack on goal was concerted by skipper Blackie. After some more good work from Keogh, Blackie forced her way through a sea of Parkwood defenders to clinically dispatch her teammate’s cross into the box.
Gillingham’s superior fitness levels proved to be vital as they saw out the game in a very professional manner, pushing to further their lead until the final whiste.
Tune made a mazy run, skipping over several challenges to facilitate an opportunity for Williams, whose skilful shot rattled the crossbar.
Gillingham made it four after Nikitta Whinnett showed good patience to work the ball to Tune who executed the ball into the top right hand corner.
Blackie almost grabbed a brace with a smart header from a Tune delivery but the game concluded with Gills taking a comfortable 4-0 win into the second round of the cup.
After a slow start, it proved to be another satisfactory afternoon for the Gills. Parkwood’s solid work rate and determination made it a very difficult first round tie for the current Kent Women’s Cup champions. Attentions now turn back to the League as Gills visit West Ham next Sunday.
Gills Ladies: Faye Baker, Deanna Cooper, Catherine Cooper, Emma Wood, Amy Taylor, Jay Blackie (c), Lauren Davis (Jade Keogh), Lauren Williams, Lauren Phillips (Charlotte Gurr), Lisa Fulgence (Emma Tune), Nikitta Whinnett