Gillingham Ladies unbeaten season at Chatham Town FC came to an abrupt end as the title decider swung Coventry’s way meaning the league title is no longer in the Gills hands gollowing a 3-0 defeat.
In front of a record breaking crowd the Gills struggled to settle their nerves over the 90 minutes and were undone by clinical finishing by second place Coventry.
The defeat pulls Coventry within a point of Gillingham Ladies at the top of the league. And with other title challengers Cardiff losing 2-1 at Lewes, Gills will have to wait and see if Portsmouth draw or beat Coventry next Sunday to secure the league title.
Despite obvious apprehension and nervousness, it was the home side who took control of the tempo of the game pressing Coventry well. Deanna Cooper had the game’s opening opportunity getting a strong header in on goal from a Charlotte Gurr’s delivery.
Despite a good start and dominating possession, two goals in little over a minute left the Gills reeling with a battle to overturn,
Coventry effectively opened up the Gills midfield to thread a ball through to the Coventry attacker who cooly placed the ball beyond Gills skipper Faye Baker in goal.
Coventry went on to exploit the Gills at their most vulnerable point of the game when the Coventry attacker Dermody produced a carbon copy of her goal seconds earlier to give the Sky Blues a considerable lead.
Gills were battling and looking to gain some composure and confidence to test Coventry and pull back in the match. Lisa Fulgence was proving to be a brilliant outlet for the Gills, her pace and work rate asking all sorts of questions of the visitor’s defence however moments after the two goals were conceded, Gills in-form striker had to be substituted with what proved to be a broken collar-bone adding a sour note to the day,
Gills had had their best moment to score when Emma Tune fed Fliss Gibbons in on goal but the effort went over and Gills were left to rue a missed opportunity.
Gillingham came out for the second half positively and were enjoying plenty of time on the ball but failing to harshly test the Coventry keeper. The game took another turn when Coventry were reduced to 10 players as their left back was dismissed for lashing out at Cooper off the ball.
The visitors set up well and proved to be a stubborn outfit to overturn.
Gills afternoon was compounded when top goal scorer Gurr was dispossessed on the edge of the box and sub Marie Gauntlett used her strength to poke the ball into the back of the net.
A disappointing afternoon for the Gills who battled hard but proved to lack that last push to seal another victory in a historic season.
Gills Ladies line up: Faye Baker, Lauren Williams, Jade Keogh, Deanna Cooper, Amy Taylor, Rachel Ahern, Charlotte Long (Lauren Davis 61), Emma Tune, Lisa Fulgence (Nikita Whinnett 37), Charlotte Gurr, Fliss Gibbons.
Subs not used: Lauren Phillips, Catherine Cooper, Emma Wood.
Coventry Ladies line up: Susan Wood, Annabel Johnson, Nikki Miles, Hayley Ladd, Natasha Lynch, Kimberley Walton, Ashleigh Neville, Rebecca Anderson, Destiney Toussaint (Marie Gauntlett 57), Helen Dermody, Natalie Brace (Karen Clough 88).
Sub not used: Stav Williams.
Goals: Dermody (31) & (32), Gauntlett (84).
Sent Off: Miles (73).
Referee: Mr David Simpson
Assistants: Mr Michael Johnston & Mr James Finch.