Report by Julian Hart
Gills Ladies fell to defeat at local rivals Charlton as goals for Katie Flack, Kit Graham and Charley Clifford kept the three points in South East London.
Gills manager Simon Ratcliffe made two changes to his starting eleven that began the fixture last Sunday against Cardiff. Ellie Manning and Natalie Crinean dropped to the bench, and in came Emma Michelmore and recent signing Nikita Whinnett, who made her first start of the season.
Charlton were quick out the blocks in the opening minutes, not two minutes were on the clock as Amy Howlett broke down the wing for the Addicks, cutting inside the Gills defence. Her shot denied by an outrushing Shanly.
Gills set back and in the 4th minute it was their turn to test Charlton on the break, Louise Lorton’s diagonal shot was wide of the far post, after Nikita Whinnett did well to slots her in through the Charlton defence.
Charlton then commanded a period of dominance on the game, in the 11th minute Stef Simmons latched on to a lose ball that was fizzed across the box. Her low shot forced Gills keeper Shanly low down to save the effort with her legs. Kit Graham then came even closer to opening the afternoon’s scoring her effort rattled the crossbar from edge of the box. Gills defence scramble to clear. Following Graham’s effort Olivia Cole found space and is played through the middle to run on to lose ball. Shanly is quick to react and advances out of the box to makes herself big to off put Cole and deny Charlton once more.
With 35 minutes on the clock, Charlton made the break through with the opening goal, Katie Flack taps home past Shanly at the far post from Grace Coombs’ free kick which looped over the defence.
Charlton could of doubled the lead a minute later when Shanly tipped a Charlton cross into the path of Sam Pittock. Her shot was fortunate for Gills that it fell wide of the post, If on target would of been beyond Shanly.
With five minutes left of the first half, Gills produced their best effort of the half, Lauren Williams sly pass plays in Whinnett one on one with Charlton keeper Megan Lynch. Whinnett’s quick looping shot eludes the far post. Minutes later Whinnett would be the one with Gills closest attempt yet. A quick turn of pace in the box sees her get a shot away, forcing a stinging shot to be pushed wide by the Charlton keeper.
Into injury time of the first half and Charlton would double their lead before the break. Graham’s quick feet turns Gills defender Michelmore on the edge of the box, with time and space cooly places a low shot beyond the reach of Shanley.
Gills made a change at Half Time to hopefully swing the Gills fortunes in the game. Sophie Brown replaced Louise Lorton in midfield.
Gills started the second half brightly, two minutes into the half Ashlee Hincks set up a slick pass to let in Danielle Farmer who’s quick feet skips past the Charlton defender. Once inside the box the Gills midfielder tries the same quick movement of footwork again and this time is clipped as she does so, although Farmer’s appeal for a penalty is debatable and waved away by the referee.
Gills the better out the block at the beginning of the second half and continue the attempt of chances on the Charlton goal, Whinnett latches onto loose ball knocked forward, bringing it under control and charges on goal, her shot is pushed wide of the post for a corner. Whinnett was the threat for Gills in the game. Breaking down the left wing and crosses into box. Hincks was just unable to bring it under control and Charlton clear the danger.
An hour on the clock, Charlton push forward and Shanly rushes out to avert the dangerous ball but her clearance kick finds its way straight to the Charlton midfield, with Shanly out of position the ball sails back into the danger zone. Graham fires a shot goal wards but the effort rolls agonisingly for Charlton wide of the post.
Whinnett’s dazy run down the right see ‘s het cut inside the defender to tee up Emma Tune waiting in the box. Tune could only watch as her shot fizzed past the Charlton goalies post.
Charlton found plenty of space on the counter, this time Shanly had to deny Katie Hardaker. Hardaker found herself through the defence with Shanly closing the gap, decides to shoot early and in doing so makes the save easier for Shanly to deal with than if closer to goal.
Twenty minutes to go and in search of a way back into the game, a Tune free kick finds Rachel Ahern unmarked at the back of the Charlton penalty area. She can’t keep her effort down though and the shot sails over.
Gills make a throw of the dice and make a double substitution in search of a game changer, Danielle Farmer and Charlotte Long are replaced by Natalie Crinean and Ellie Manning.
But not a minute had passed when Charley Clifford scored for Charlton in the 75th minute. She won possession of the ball in the Gills area and fired a shot into the back of the net. Charlton nearly extended the lead as Graham skipped past Lauren Phillips and Ahern and her shot is cleared away by Lauren Williams. The loose ball falls to Howlett, who’s shot rattles the underside of the bar, was unlucky not to have got her second of the afternoon.
Full Time Charlton WFC 3 Gillingham LFC 0
Gillingham Ladies: Shanly, Phillips, Michelmore, Williams, Ahern, Lorton (Brown 45) Long (Manning 73), Tune, Whinnett, Farmer (Crinean 73), Hincks
Charlton WFC: Lynch, Southgate (Paye 51), Mulholland, Coonbs, Flack, Howlett, Clifford, Pittuck, Simmons (Monaghan 78), Graham, Cole (Hardaker 55)