Gillingham Ladies Reserves made it into the second round of the Kent Womens’ Cup, with a 4-0 victory over Aylesford Ladies at BAE. Goals from Holly Learmonth, Sophie Brown, Megan Carroll and Kayleigh Galvin all came in the second half when the Reserves took control of the game.
In just the second game manager Vicky Ashton-Jones has been in charge and with the postponement of last week’s game, the Reserves took time in the opening minutes to find their feet against Aylesford. Soon though it was the Reserves asserting the pressure and Sophie Brown and Holly Learmonth using space on the wings to push forward, Brown found time on the right to cross the ball into the box while Learmonth was able to cause problems for the Aylesford defence by cutting into the box from the left wing.
It was 30 minutes into the game and Megan Carroll nearly had the Gills Reserves in the lead, she first found herself with time in the box to turn and shoot but her shot clipped the bar on the way over. Matter of minutes later Carroll again found the ball played to her feet, this time she was one on one, but an out rushing Aylesford goalkeeper closed down the space to shoot and the attempt went wide.
On the 35th minute of the game, Learmouth cut in from the left hand side and beat the Aylesford right back, but rushed the shot and fired wide of the goal. Moments later, Emily Laker was instrumental to the next Gills attack, initially the one pushing the ball forward, she found the ball passed back to her with time and space to shoot on the edge of the box. However the Aylesford keeper was quick to react and smothered the shot. The Reserves were starting to look a lot more confident on the ball, playing the ball out from the defence, Bonnie Long striding forward from deep inside her own half to press the Aylesford midfield. Long’s pass found Learmouth to break away behind the Aylesford defence but the left midfielder was flagged offside.
Gills Reserves were nearly caught out just before the stroke of half time, Aylesford creating their best chance of the half. The ball flew across the box to the Aylesford forward who forced Gills to block the initial shot, Emma Michelmore finally clearing the ball away from the Gills goal. It wasn’t to be the last of the first half action as down the other end, Megan Carroll had a chance but couldn’t convert as the strikers shot got past the keeper but alluded the far left post.
Half Time: 0-0
After the interval it was soon to be Gills who took the lead, in the 49th minute Brown exploited space on the right and squared the ball across the box to find Learmonth who’s strong shot flew past the keeper into the net. 1-0
Five minutes later and it was soon to be Brown’s moment as she turned from provider into scorer. Emily Lyons played a slick pass to Brown, who placed a shot with the outside of her right foot into the bottom corner of the goal, squeezing in between keepers gloves and the post. 2-0
Gills Reserves were being assertive, pressing every ball and Megan Carroll got her rewards for her hard work up front. With an hour on the clock, the Aylesford left back played the ball across the box and Carroll intercepted between defenders, capitalising by slotting her shot under the keeper and into the back of the net. 3-0
Emily Lyons came close on the 62nd minute when inside the box she had time on the ball but blazed her shot over the bar.
With fifteen minutes to go Aylesford formed their best chance of the second half, cutting in from the right wing it forced Gills keeper Courtney Shanly to rush out and close down the Aylesford attack, the Aylesford shot went wide of the post.
It wasn’t to be the last of the action as Gills kept on going and got a fourth goal three minutes from time. Learmonth utilising the Gills work rate and fitness to beat an Aylesford defender and attack into the box, a squared pass found substitute Kayleigh Galvin in the centre, who coolly slotted home from about 12 yards. 4-0
Full time and considering the Reserves took till the second half to take grip of the scoreline, they can take valuable lessons from the way the game went. Progression into the next round is well deserved for the Reserves, it is now important that they put today’s improvements into next Sunday’s League Cup game versus West Ham.
Gills Ladies Reserves, Courtney Shanly, Alex Fagan, Bonnie Long, Connie Lewin, Emma Michelmore (c), Sophie Brown, Emily Lyons, Rhea Vale, Emily Laker, Holly Learmouth, Megan Carroll (Kayleigh Galvin, 75)