Gillingham Ladies incurred their first defeat of 2014 after a solitary goal proved to be enough to knock the Gills out the League Cup.
The Gills opponents were league rivals Coventry Ladies who hosted the Kent side for the second time this season. An entertaining League Cup quarter final in blustery conditions was decided after the Gills were punished for a defensive error and not capitalising on the large chunk of possession they enjoyed in the second half.
Looking to atone the 4-0 thrashing dished out last time the Gills visited, Coventry were hot off the whistle to look to attack the Gills. They enjoyed a good opportunity to draw ahead in the opening 10 minutes.
A loose Gills pass was picked up and a through ball played in for the Sky Blues to attack Faye Baker’s goal. Some brilliant reactive defending from Deanna Cooper, who provided composure at the back for Gills throughout, meant she managed to deal with two Coventry players and divert the danger
In what was to prove a very even first 45 minutes, it was Gills who composed the next best attacking movement of the game. Lauren Williams delivering a great ball down the right into the path of Fliss Gibbons who could only be stopped by a blatant body check on the ball, gifting Gills a free kick in a dangerous position. Gills top scorer Charlotte Gurr stepped up to plant a ball towards goal but the effort curled wide with too much power for any Gills teammates to connect with.
Gurr then produced what was to prove the Gills best chance of the game with a skillful shot from distance that was heading towards the back of the net if it hadn’t been for a super fingertip save from the Sky Blues keeper.
Coventry should have been one up after an error allowed them to attack the Gills penalty box. With plenty of time and space in the area the home side should have converted the opportunity presented but the subsequent shot on Baker’s goal hit the side netting.
Whilst the Gills were enjoying periods on the ball, clear cut options to draw ahead were few. Coventy meanwhile had another chance to draw ahead after a loose pass feel straight to a Sky Blue midfielder who teed up a shot from distance but failed to trouble Baker.
The home side then rattled the side post but the away side stood firm to the test keeping the score at 0-0.
Danielle Carlton posed a large threat to Coventry, producing some testing deliveries for them to deal with and some opportunities for her teammates to capitalise on.
Carlton showed great dertermination down the left flank to make a charge towards goal, shrugging off several challenges thrown her way. Carlton pulled the ball back to Nikita Whinnett who scuffed her shot in the opposition’s penalty area.
A stubborn opening half saw both sides battling for an opening, with players needing to be strong and physical to get a stakehold in the game. The Gills were almost undone when the Sky Blues striker turned centre back Amy Taylor to run in on goal. Baker did well to reduce the angle on goal for the Coventry striker to aim at and subsequently her shot went comfortably wide.
With the contest even after 45 minutes it was clear it would be the narrowest of margins required to seperate the two League opponents on this occassion.
Gillingham carved open an opportunity when a curling ball was delivered to Whinett who worked the defender well, turning her and finding Gurr in the box. Off balance, the Gills striker attempted the get the shot away from a tricky position but her effort went off target.
Emma Tune tried her luck for Gills from midfield with a looped effort from the edge of the box. Tune was denied however as the Coventry keeper was able to leap up and get two firm hands to the ball.
Coventry took the lead as Gillingham gave away possession in their own half. Capitalising on the error the Sky Blues lashed an effort towards goal that smacked into the roof of the net.
Gillingham sought to inject some tempo in the game with Lisa Fulgence, Rachel Ahern and Jay Blackie coming on to give the Gills something new to test Coventry with.
Whilst Gillingham enjoyed a dominant spell of 20 minutes, they failed to test the Sky Blues keeper enough, with the final pass and touch seeming to escape the side who had previously been so ruthless in finishing when they last visited.
Cooper pushed forward from defence to support her teammates, finding Whinnet with a fantastic cross field ball cutting the Coventry defence in two. Whinnet took the ball down well but an untimeley slip meant a brilliant opportunity was missed.
Another Carlton delivery escaped the Coventry defence with Blackie rising highest to attempt to make contact with the ball but on this occassion failed to test the home side’s keeper.
Blackie chested down a Williams ball, turned to get a shot on target but the keeper was able to gather easily to deny the Gills what would have been a deserved equaliser.
However, Coventry could have made it two after an uncharacteristic slip up from the Gills saw Coventry in on goal, Ahern called upon to ma