In the rain and hail conditions of Sunday afternoon, Gillingham Ladies gained three valuable points against Lewes Ladies. A goal in the second half from Nikita Whinnett settling the score line.
Back in December at the Dripping Pan, Lewes were the first team to beat Gills this season after the terrific 15 game unbeaten start. The game was the Gills first home League tie since early December, which started in blustery conditions. A series of rain showers prior to kick off had dampened the pitch, it worsened with a heavy hailstorm as the players entered the field of play and kicked off the game.
Gills opened the game on the front foot, an early attack from Gills saw Jay Blackie gain control the ball in the middle of the park and lay the ball out wide to Jade Keogh. Keogh found time to deliver a cross into the box aimed at centre forward Lisa Fulgence. It flew over the top of the forward but found Charlotte Gurr at the far post, but under pressure from the Lewes defence her header is narrowly wide of the post.
Both teams looked to make use of counter attacks, Gills forward Fulgence controlled the ball well just inside the Lewes half and burst goal wards, Lewes did well to recover but only cleared for a corner. As Lewes cleared the subsequent corner, a quick break saw Lewes counter straight down the other end. A quick cross saw a looping header just over Gills goalkeeper Faye Baker’s goal. The same nearly happened moments later as Gills pushed forward for a free kick, Lewes dealt with the threat and broke away on the right wing, Gills scrambled back and Nikita Whinnett did well to recover and push the ball to safety.
With 25 minutes on the clock, Gills came the closest they had so far. Emma Tune win the ball on the edge of the box and with a clever header found Gurr, who hit the shot quickly but her volley sailed over the cross bar. Gills continued the pressure as minutes later Whinnett placed a cross into the Lewes box, but the Lewes keeper managed to rise above the waiting Gills players to collect the danger.
Lewes were still putting Gills under pressure. After pressuring the Gills defence Lewes forced Deanna Cooper into clearing the ball away for a corner. From the corner saw a rifled shot over Baker’s crossbar. Before the half time whistle Gills came close again. Jade Keogh forced the Lewes keeper into a save after Fulgence had held off the defender to set the ball up to Keogh.
Half time: Gillingham Ladies 0 Lewes Ladies 0
Gills opened the second half looking for a break through, Gurr did well on the right wing to deliver a cross, Fulgence headed the ball on to Whinnett, in space she was able to get her shot away but it was just wide of the post.
The rain began to fall heavily again as Lewes had there best chance of the second half, as they cut in from the left side the shot ended high over the crossbar.
Gills found the breakthrough in the 72nd minute, Gurr on the left wing crossed the ball into the penalty area. Blackie, Fulgence and a Lewes defender jumped for the ball, which deflected into the path of Whinnett. Whinnett controlled the ball well before placing the shot into the bottom corner beyond the outstretched Lewes keeper.
Gills continued to press for another goal, Gurr’s cross managed to find Fulgence right on the penalty spot. Fulgence’s header is saved by the Lewes keeper. Moments later substitute Danielle Carlton whipped in a cross to Jay Blackie who’s diving header inched wide of the post.
In an end to end finale. Gills playing for possession as the clock ticked down were threatened by Lewes breaking on a counter, Gillingham’s defence blew out the attack and feed Whinnett to speed away for a shot on goal before the whistle blew for full time.
Gills will be glad to have won the game even by the narrow margin, with the teams positioned above them in the league both facing each other at the weekend, three points will close the gap at the top of the table.
Gillingham team vs Lewes; Baker, Whinnett, Ahern, D Cooper, Taylor, Keogh (Davis,74), C.Long, Blackie (c), Tune (Carlton,63), Fulgence (Williams,80), Gurr. Subs; C Cooper, Williams, Davis, Phillips, Carlton.