Gillingham Ladies’ FA Cup campaign starts with a bang as they score 7 and maintain a clean sheet in another home victory.
Gillingham Ladies welcomed both Larkfield Ladies and Petts Wood Football Club girls to be the mascots for the match, with both teams playing on the pitch and joining the Gills in the changing room before the game.
With an attendance of just under 150 fans at Chatham Town Football Club, Gillingham Ladies kept their latest winning streak going against AFC Wimbledon Ladies who have been unbeaten so far this season.
The first goal for the Gills Ladies came early, a corner in the first 3 minutes led to a bit of a scramble in the box, but Kallie Balfour was able to knock the ball into the goal, 1-0 Gillingham.
The remainder of the first half saw Gillingham mainly dominating with good possession football but struggling to break through. Several attempts shooting from a distance didn’t prove very productive in their search for a second goal. AFC Wimbledon struggled to make any real impact on the game, although there were a few attacking attempts, the Gills defence were alert and the ball was always quickly cleared with play being sent back the other way.
With 5 minutes to go in the first half, a 50/50 challenge between Gillingham striker Kallie Balfour and Wimbledon defender Lauren Carnell resulted in a 5 minute injury break, Carnell was able to get up but unfortunately couldn’t play on and was substituted for Kirstie Bavington.
Half time score: Gillingham Ladies 1: AFC Wimbledon Ladies 0
The second half proved to be much more eventful, a few fruitless goal attempts from AFC Wimbledon were overshadowed by a half largely dominated by Gillingham and a 6 goal windfall.
The Gills second goal came when Fiona Constable sent a wonderful ball into the box from a corner, Kallie Balfour jumped and powerfully headed the ball down into the bottom corner which neither the keeper nor the player at the back post were able to keep out, 2-0 Gillingham.
The game was short lived for AFC Wimbledon’s Kirstie Bavington after only being subbed on in the 40th minute. Charlie Thurston was fouled and Bavington was left on the floor, however not in keeping with the nature of the game so far Bavington lashed out and kicked Thurston. The referee had no choice and it was a straight red card, AFC Wimbledon were down to 10 players.
With Lauren Williams and Shannon Redhouse playing the ball out wide, a failed cross fell back to Williams who sent the ball in the direction of the far post. Although the strike appeared to be going out, April Bowers managed to get on the end of it and scored her first goal for the team since recently joining from West Ham Ladies, 3-0 Gillingham. Then came the first change of the game for Gillingham as Manager Jack Wheeler replaced Fiona Constable with Lydia Wills.
The third goal was swiftly followed by a driving run from Balfour with what appeared to be a cross but was over the reach of the keeper and ended up in the bottom right corner, 4-0 Gillingham and hat-trick for Kallie Balfour! Newcomer April Bowers was then taken off the pitch after an impressive home debut for the club and was replaced by Madison North.
At this point Gillingham Ladies were on a roll, pushing forward and maintaining possession predominantly in the AFC Wimbledon half. Jack Wheeler made his third substitution of the game and after an impressively strong defensive performance, Charlie Thurston was taken off and replaced by Georgia Reece. AFC Wimbledon also looked to make a change with Cindy Colliver taking the place of Zoe Clifford.
After an impressive run from Balfour the ball was whipped into the middle of the box and whilst Lydia Wills’ shot looked to be going wide Shannon Redhouse was at the back post to flick the ball over the keeper, 5-0 Gillingham.
Gillingham Ladies continued to push forward and not long after the last goal, a ball over the top saw Redhouse in behind the AFC Wimbledon defence, however just as she was about to unleash her shot she was fouled in the box and the referee awarded a penalty to Gillingham. Captain Lauren Williams comfortably stepped up to take the spot kick and placed the ball into the keepers top left hand corner, 6-0 Gillingham.
Emma Keady then came off for AFC Wimbledon and Sian Wylie came on. Wimbledon managed to create a few opportunities, but Gillingham’s strong defence kept the ball out and Goalkeeper Courtney Shanly never appeared too troubled by the AFC Wimbledon side.
Now into the last five minutes of the game, a short corner from Balfour to Georgia Reece led to a cross into the box. The ball was over the keeper and hit one of the AFC Wimbledon defenders who didn’t know much about it, unfortunately for them the ball ended up in the back of their own net, 7-0 Gillingham!
Not long after, the final whistle was blown which drew an end to a match with a very impressive home result. It was great to see goals from so many of the Gillingham Ladies and we can only hope for more to come in the upcoming fixtures.
Final score: Gillingham Ladies 7: AFC Wimbledon Ladies 0