Match Report and Photos by Julian Hart
After last week’s home win Gillingham went into this weekend’s match on a ten match winning streak, the win against Herne Bay in the FA Cup had seen The Gills progress from the qualifying stages to the First Round proper. A Kent Cup tie made it successive Cup fixtures, Gills making the trip up the A2 to last season beaten finalist London Corinthians.
Jack Wheeler opted for a changed side from seven days ago, Lauren Williams, Charlie Thurston and April Bowers not included in the squad, while Courtney Shanly and Emma Tune start on the bench. This gave a chance for some players to get a chance to start the fixture. On loan goalkeeper Sarah Quantrill had the duty between the sticks, Rachel Ahern got a start after a few week absence, Chelsea Wallace lined up in the middle of the park, while youngster Fiona Constable got the nod up front alongside Kallie Balfour who has been in terrific goal scoring form.
London Corinthians started the better in the very blustery conditions, just four minutes on the clock when they forced the first save out of Gillingham keeper Quantrill. A heavy collision in a fair challenge on the half way line saw a Corinthians player stay down, Gillingham looked to play it out but Corinthians played on. Quickly playing the ball out wide to the right wing, Emily Hart cut inside and into the penalty area, a low shot stopped by Quantrill to deny a early opener.
Gillingham took time to settle, but with a quarter of an hour gone Kallie Balfour pushing forward on the right wing managed to takes it past the Corinthians left back, but could only find a shot into the side netting. Minutes later Chelsea Wallace would play in Balfour with a clever lobbed pass over the defence. The strikers effort was straight at Katherine Long in the Corinthians goal.
Corinthians took the lead with a rather fortuitous goal, a long ball upfield was difficult to read with the windy conditions. Gills centre back Vanisha Patel misjudged the header and inadvertently sent it looping over Quantrill and into her own net. London Corinthians 1 Gillingham 0
Gills looked to get back into it, Balfour linked onto Hardaker’s through ball. Drifting past the Corinthians defence and into a shooting position, her shot was past the Corinthians keeper but also agonisingly past the far post.
Gills continued to try to make amends with the score, Fiona Constable hitting the post after the ball scrambled around the London Corinthians area. The ball cleared but only to Chelsea Wallace who tried an effort 25 yards out, but London Corinthians looked on as it flew over the bar.
The defining moment of the match happening with five minutes left of the first half, Danielle Harrison caught the Gills defence napping and found a break on goal. Quantrill rushed far out to close the opportunity but bought down Harrison under challenge outside the box. The referee was quick to blow for the foul and the inevitable red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity followed. The free kick was off target and substitute keeper Courtney Shanly could comfortable watch it past the post.
Half Time: London Corinthians 1 (Patel OG 23′) Gillingham 0
A half time reshuffle saw Katie Hardaker make way for Emma Tune. It was ten minutes before Gillingham could force an opportunity, Jade Keogh collected the ball in the middle of the Corinthians half. A half turn giving the space to try a speculative looping shot from 25 yards. The Corinthians keeper tipping the effort onto the crossbar. Minutes later Shannon Redhouse’s cross found its way across the face of the goal but Balfour on the far post couldn’t connect to turn it in.
An hour on the clock Corinthians made a scare for Gillingham, Harrison gets one on one with Shanly but the Gills keeper forced the striker to place her effort is wide of the near post. Moments later Holly Ryde was also denied by Shanly, Ryde’s low shot was central and in a good position for Shanly to collect.
With a quarter of an hour to play, Redhouse tried an ambitious half volley from distance at a very acute angle from outside of the box, the shot just a whisper over the bar and onto the roof of the netting.
Gillingham continued the pressure to try to find a leveller, second half substitute Paige Baker-Carroll was bundled over on the edge of the Corinthians penalty area. Tune’s free kick found its way into the feet of Baker-Carroll and Balfour but it bobbled out for a goal kick.
Gillingham continued to put on the pressure to get back into the game against the odd. Balfour was upended on the edge of the box, Tune again stepped up and took an effort upon herself this time. The final effort was over the bar.
With the clock ticking Keogh’s ball out wide found Redhouse to deliver a cross into Baker-Carroll in the box. Baker-Carroll turned the effort just wide of the left hand post as another Gillingham shot fell off target.
London Corinthians saw out the final moments to secure the win, the victory sees the host now take on Parkwood or Ashford in the Semi-Finals. Gillingham’s long successive four year run in defending the Kent Cup comes to an end.
Full Time: London Corinthians 1 (Patel OG 23′) Gillingham 0
Gillingham: S.Quantrill, A.Loosemore (C.Shanly 40), V.Patel (P.Baker-Carroll 58), R.Ahern, M.North, C.Wallace, J.Keogh, K.Hardaker (E.Tune 45), S.Redhouse, K.Balfour, F.Constable
Subs: C.Shanly, G.Reece, E.Tune, P.Baker-Carroll, L.Wills
London Corinthians: K.Long, I.Michalalski, M.Mansfield, K.Nunnick, D.Brown, A.Keech, H.Titchener, H.Ryde, L.Adams, D.Harrison, E.Hart
Subs: H.Riddoch, A.Fagan, L.Susarta, H.Mansfield, R.Gregory