Report by Amy Nickalls
The first of the Gillingham vs West Ham trilogy began with a 2-0 victory for the Gills in the Reserves game on Sunday.
Bex Stroud, who has only recently returned to the squad after a knee operation, opened the scoring just before half time as she capitalised on a mistake made by the keeper.
Stroud had a brilliant game working tirelessly down the wing and was rewarded with the goal that gave the girls a much needed confidence boost.
The Irons started off looking like the stronger team with number eight setting up number nine in the first few minutes for a shot that went just wide.
But the Gills replied quickly with a free kick from Emma Tune that found Georgia Pilbeam who headed straight to the keeper.
West Ham did most of the attacking play in the first half with Whitney Locke and Sasha Kelly pairing up nicely with some great chances, but a solid defensive performance from Georgia Reece and Bonnie Long stopped them from finding the goal.
Sophie Ledger displayed another wonderful performance showing lightening reactions to deny the Hammers the lead on several occasions.
The first half goal gave the Gills a much needed confidence boost and they took control in the second half. Too often this season the girls have started off well and tailed off towards the end. But on this occasion they only seemed to get stronger as the game went on.
Locke had some early chances for West Ham but was unable to find the goal or was met by the safe hands of Ledger.
In the 57th minute Gillingham could have extended their lead with a free kick 18 yards out taken by Emma Tune but it was unfortunately met by the keeper.
Gillingham’s second goal came in the 73rd minute from Ashleigh Loosemore who took an accurate, powerful shot from outside the box into the left corner.
Regular goalkeeper Imogen Alabaster, found herself at the other end of the pitch as she had her own chance at goal. 80 minutes in and Alabaster collected the ball just off the half way line and ran through West Ham’s defence to take a shot at goal that was caught by West Ham’s keeper, who also had a good game despite the score.