Gills overcome resilient Denham after first half scare

  
Report by Julian Hart

Gillingham Ladies 5 Denham United Ladies 1

Gillingham Ladies made a second half comeback from a first half scare to beat Denham United Ladies, Denham had taken a surprise lead in the first half through a penalty, after Gills defender Vanisha Patel was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box. Gills turned in a five star second half performance to turn around the result to secure three points.

Gillingham had the chances early in the contest, within the opening minute Paige Baker-Carroll set up Emma Tune who tested the Denham goalkeeper Elizabeth Rose, Tune’s effort was parried to safety. 

With three minutes on the clock, Baker-Carroll capitalised on a short placed back pass to the Denham goalkeeper, the forward found herself one on one, Rose quick off her line to close the gap and push the shot for a corner. 

Minutes later Gills again looked a threat, Katie Hardaker found the loose ball in the middle of the pitch, with time and space set herself up for a 25 yard effort, but the shot was high over the target. 

With a quarter of an hour gone, Denham took a surprise lead. On the break, a cross from the edge of the box was hit into Patel. Referee Chris Matt adjudged that an arm had been used to stop the ball and awarded the visitors the spot kick. Allisa Down converted the opportunity and the visitor found themselves in the lead, Gillingham having had plenty of the possession trailed the match. 

Half an hour gone, Gills pressed for an equaliser before the break only for the heroics of Denham keeper Rose to keep the visitors in the lead. Rose first denied Shannon Redhouse who broke through the defence, got a low shot aimed at the corner to see it pushed away by Rose. Gills next effort came when Kallie Balfour was well timed to stay onside and catch out the Denham back four. The Gills forward tried he luck with a looping shot off the bouncing through ball, Rose was once again the thorn in Gills side as her fingertip touch was just enough to see the ball over the bar. 

Denham were a threat on the break, midfielder Lauren Cox found time and space on the edge after counter attacking. Cox tried a low effort and Gills keeper Courtney Shanly was quick to react to smother the shot. 

Gills ended the half barraging the Denham goal, Balfour twice denied by Rose before Baker-Carroll saw her shot go past the Denham keeper but go agonisingly wide of the far post. 

HT: Gillingham Ladies 0 Denham United Ladies 1

After the interval it was Gills who looked the brighter, four minutes into the second half from a freekick Tune rattled the crossbar. About 20 yards out, in a similar range to which Tune converted last week against Crystal Palace, found her effort over the wall and beyond the keeper but the woodwork denying an equaliser. 

It took to the 50th minute for Gills to find the equaliser, Katie Hardaker’s corner into a busy penalty area found a cluster of players, Jade Keogh looked the last to touch the ball as it took a deflection and in. 

Minutes later the turnaround was complete, Baker-Carroll got the chance as Balfour set up the chance. Baker-Carroll was not to be denied this time and cooly slotted home. 

An hour on the clock and Gills cemented the tie, Kallie Balfour found space on the wing and cut inside and hit a shot off the inside of the post, the ball fell fortunately for Baker-Carroll who was alert and converted the tap in 3 yards out. 

As the game tailed into the final stages Gillingham looked for more goals to increase their lead. Second half substitute Chelsea Wallace found Balfour with a great through ball cutting apart the Denham defence. This time Balfour, after being denied multiple times by Rose in the Denham goal in the first half, with time to place her shot did not miss and gave the Gills a comfortable lead. 

  
As Denham tired in the later stages, another second half substitute Lydia Wills got on the scoresheet to complete the rout. Latching on to a scuffed clearance, Wills unleashed a driven shot from inside the box past the crowded six yard area and found the net. 

Gillingham saw out the closing minutes to claim three points and continue the march up the table. 

FT: Gillingham Ladies 5 Denham United Ladies 1

Teams: 

Gillingham: Courtney Shanly, Rachel Ahern, Lauren Williams, Vanisha Patel, Lauren Davis, Katie Hardaker, Jade Keogh (Chelsea Wallace,73), Emma Tune, Shannon Redhouse (Madison North,70), Kallie Balfour, Paige Baker-Carroll (Lydia Wills,73)

Goals: Keogh 50′, Baker-Carroll 52′ 59′, Balfour 82′, Wills 89′

Denham United:

Elizabeth Rose, Holleigh Marsh, Rachel Blackburn, Jeto Byqiti, Emma Butler, Kim Pendred, Allisa Down, Harriet Gilbert, Katie Phillipson (Jenna Wood 80), Lauren Cox, Helen Capewell (Emma McConnell 84)

Goal: Allisa Down 16′

Referee: Chris Matt

Assistants: Tony Sanders, Jeff Vines

ATT: 87

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