High scoring Gillingham Ladies continued their strong vein of form with a triumphant mid-week victory in the Ryman League Cup away at Bury Ladies FC.
It was a long journey to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, and a delayed kick off to 8:05 did have an impact on the initial tempo of the game as Gills Ladies looked to dictate.
Manager Jack Wheeler made several changes to the side that beat Dartford Royals in the Cup on Sunday and the team went on to prove, in some style, the depth and quality Wheeler has at his disposal.
It was Gills Ladies’ defence who were called into action early on with Ashleigh Loosmore pullling off a great sliding tackle before driving the ball forwards and teeing up Shannon Redhouse to make a counter-attack on the Bury goal.
The movement triggered a period of attacking pressure for the Gills who were able to get a number of off target efforts towards goal.
The breakthrough came early when Gills identified space for Redhouse to exploit and provide a sweeping cross with Paige Baker-Carroll positioned in the right place at the right time to convert.
Gills front three were asking plenty of questions of the Bury Town defence who had their goalkeeper to thank for keeping the visitors lead limited. Emma Tune testing with a fantastic piece of movement and a decent finish only to be denied by a wonderful reaction save.
Gillingham enjoyed long periods of possession and were able to be compact defensively to ensure goalkeeper Imogen Alabaster had a quiet evening.
As the first half progressed Bury were effectively frustrating their visitors, putting players behind the ball and putting on an impressive defensive performance. Gills Ladies’ patience was rewarded however as Loosemore won the ball in defence, combining with Redhouse again who drove from inside her half straight towards the penalty area, keeping her composure to poke home.
The goal triggered a positive spell as a third goal was added with Jade Keogh provider with a pinpoint ball across the goal which Baker-Carroll dispatched with ease.
Gills extended their lead even further before the half was over as a set piece delivery was not cleared and Baker-Carroll found the bottom corner to add to her Gillingham tally.
And it was added to further when Redhouse drove into space on the right before launching an effort on goal. Baker-Carroll was rewarded for her determination to support her team-mates attacking run and was able to fire the ball beyond the keeper to give Gills a huge half-time advantage.
Gills took their momentum from a prolific first half into the second when Madison North pushed forward, putting a ball into the box which found Baker-Carroll whose touch and turn left the defender in the dust. Gills hat-trick hero placed her shot to make it five goals for her and six for the team.
Gillingham continued to build a rhythm and dictate play despite the hard fought endeavours of their hosts who refused to give up and pressed the ball hard.
North and left back Georgia Reece pushed on for Gills as they exposed space on the wings more effectively and opportunities were created across the pitch. Yet Gills seventh came from great combination play between forwards Wills and Baker-Carroll, the latter sealing off a sharp passing move getting a double hat-trick to continue her impressive first impression at the club.
Gillingham secured an eighth goal through Baker-Carroll who found herself in an advantageous position to make the most of a Redhouse ball across the box.
The Bury goal continued to come under attack and a ninth was secured through Tune whose fine solo goal from a difficult angle added further gloss to an evening of free flowing football from Gills Ladies.
A tenth came soon after and a goal for Wills who had worked tirelessly leading the line, grafting opportunities for her team-mates. The Gills youngster able to get on the end of a Williams’ dissecting ball, before shooting clear of the keeper and into the back of the net.
An accomplished evening for the Gillingham Ladies squad who were able to demonstrate great professionalism to secure a memorable victory and progress to the next round of the Ryman League Cup.
Gillingham Ladies will now welcome FA WPL outfit Tottenham Hotspur to Chatham Town for the next round of the competition with a date to be confirmed.
The run of cup fixtures successfully concluded, Gills now turn their attentions to the league with another long-distance trip to Bedford Ladies scheduled for this Sunday.