Gills Ladies Reserves suffered a disappointing home defeat to league leaders Brighton on Sunday afternoon.
In the bright sunshine it was Brighton who started the game on the front foot, from the kick off the visitors pressed the Gills and got an early lead in the 4th minute. Brighton capitalising on a lose ball not cleared by the Gillingham defence and the shot was too strong for Gills keeper Courtney Shanley and it flew into the back of the net.
Despite a few days of good sunshine, the contest between the two teams was on a very soft pitch, which hampered the Gills Reserves to a shaky start to the game. Brighton continued to press and minutes after opening the scoring found a good opportunity when Gills midfielder Rhea Vale was adjudged to have committed a foul on the edge of the box, the Brighton free kick was shot over the bar.
With ten minutes gone, Brighton broke away from their own half, a long clearance saw a break down the right wing. The Brighton attacker cut a cross behind the Gills defence to the far side but the follow up shot looped over the bar. It was to be just moments later though when Brighton doubled their lead. A mix up on the Gills box saw Brighton convert a chance from just 6 yards out.
Gills Reserves started to find their feet and settle down into the game after this, with twenty minutes on the clock, Gills had their first chance. Sophie Brown stepped up to take a free kick, but her shot was just over the crossbar. Gills found momentum in this and minutes later came close again. It was good play in the middle by Vale that found Lauren Phillips on the edge of the box, who set up Brown. A snap shot forced the Brighton keeper to react to push the ball away for a corner.
With 5 minutes till half time Gills looked to get back into the score line before the break, Holly Learmouth found space on the wing and cutting inside of the Brighton defender was able to press into the box. Her shot across the goal was wide of the far post.
It was to be Brighton that finished the first half the better, with a third goal. A long pass down the right side found the Brighton fullback who’s intended cross into the box instead found its way into the net looping over Gills keeper Shanley.
Half Time Gillingham Ladies Reserves 0 Brighton & Hove Albion Reserves 3
In the 65th minute Brighton looked as if they would increase their lead if not for some great defending by Emma Michelmore. A through ball by Brighton plays in the Brighton forward between the Gills defence to go one on one with Shanley. Michelmore recovered to make a last ditch challenge to deny Brighton the shot and cleared away.
Gills had their closest chance of the second half in the 70th minute, a free kick about 25 yards out. Emily Lyons was fouled by the Brighton defender, Phillips lined up the kick but her curling shot alluded the post.
Brighton were still chasing for more and in the 75th minute rattled the woodwork. A close shot hit the post and bounced across the face of the goal before going behind for a goal kick. They were however to find the net again before the end, with five minutes to go. Michelmore was dispossessed in the left back corner, the ball was crossed in and bundled past keeper Shanley and into the net.
Full time Gillingham Ladies Reserves 0 Brighton & Hove Albion Ladies Reserves 4
Gillingham Ladies Reserves; Shanley, B.Long, Michelmore, Vale, C.Cooper, Wood (Mackley,66), Brown, C.Long, Learmouth, Phillips (c), Lyons
After the game we spoke to the Reserves assistant manager Amy Merricks who was disappointed in the way the game went;
“We didn’t seem as composed as we normally do on the ball, our quality of passing wasn’t there which meant we gave the ball away too easily in dangerous places. Our work rate simply wasn’t good enough today. It’s horrible to start a game and concede two goals so quickly, I think we weren’t switched on and made crucial mistakes in the middle where we gave the ball away very easily and that unsettled us. We have to learn from mistakes like that for future games and rightly so Brighton punished us for it.”
Merricks also went on to discuss the Reserves remaining upcoming games and that they hope to improve upon today’s game against teams in the same league position as the Gills.
“We have targets to hit for the last games and I have full belief in the girls, they will raise their work rate and work hard to finish the season on a high. We showed some fantastic football and build up play in phases today and didn’t take our opportunities to score as much as we should have. We will be looking to take advantage of them opportunities in the next games and be more composed on the ball to play our way.”