Gills sign off season with win

Report and Photos by Julian Hart

Following Sunday’s emphatic 8-0 away win at Norwich City LFC, Gillingham hosted Old Actonians at Meridian FC in the final fixture for Gills in their FA WPL campaign. 

Manager Jack Wheeler named three changes, Courtney Shanly, Megan Maslak and Katie Hardaker made way in the starting line up for Imogen Alabaster, Madison North and Lydia Wills. 

Old Actonians took Gills for an early scare as on the fourth minute and lose ball in the box was poked goalwards, the effort came off the underside of the crossbar and bounced off the line. Alabaster was quick to react and scooped the ball away to safety. 

Despite the visitors producing the first attempt on goal, Gills took the lead on the tenth minute. Breaking down the left wing, Fiona Constable cut inside and was set up by Emma Tune. Constable’s rocket of a shot past the keeper and found the roof of the net, an unstoppable strike. 1-0

Gills found multiple opportunities in front of goal in the first half. The closest they came to finding a second came for Lydia Wills, her initial shot was denied by the Old Actonians defender before the follow up attempt was stopped by Naoami Swift in the Actonians goal. 

Gillingham’s persistent threat didn’t convert to a greater advantage and Old Actonians capitalised on the chance they got in front of Gills goal. Chelsea Berlin was able to get a shot away on the edge of the box. The effort looped over Alabaster and into the net. 1-1

Minutes later Berlin again tried her luck from distance and Alabaster was left scrambling to keep out the high shot and keep the scores level going into the break. 

Half Time: Gillingham LFC 1 Old Actonians 1

Five minutes into the second half Gills looked like breaking the deadlock. Madison North did well on the left wing to force a corner, the delivery of the set piece caused havoc in the six yard box, but neither Lauren Williams or Ashleigh Loosemore could get enough of a shot away to pass the wall of defenders.

It was to be two minutes later and Gills would take the lead. Kallie Balfour strides onto a Emma Tune ball over the top of the Old Actonians defence and places a looped shot past the keeper and into the far corner. 2-1

Balfour would double her match tally and get two in two minutes. With less than ten minutes on the second half clock, Jade Keogh and Lydia Wills neatly passed around their defensive markers and found Balfour. Dipping past one defender to scoop a shot past the Actonians keeper. 3-1

With an hour gone, Keogh would turn from provider into scorer, adding to her season’s tally of neat strikes. 25 yards out the shot catching out the defence and beating the Actonians keeper. 4-1

Old Actonians kept the game interesting, continuing to press when chance to get forward occurred. Forward Sooriyakumar Sinthujah finding pockets of space to keep Gillingham’s defence alert. 

Half way through the second half and substitute Georgia Reece made her mark on the game. Collecting the ball on the right hand side, cutting inside of the Actonians full back and unleashing a shot. The effort gliding into the top corner of the net. 5-1

Having secured a second place finish at the weekend, Gills were glad to see out victory in the second half. A five game winning run to end the season after missing out on promotion. Kallie Balfour’s brace in the game sending her top of the FA WPL South East Div One goal scoring charts. 

Full Time: Gillingham LFC 5 Old Actonians 1

Gillingham LFC; Alabaster, Loosemore, Patel, Ahern, Williams, Tune (Reece,61), North (Hardaker,54), Keogh, Constable, Balfour, Wills (Baker-Carroll, 54)

SUBS; Shanly, Hardaker, Wills, Baker-Carroll

Old Actonians; Swift, Conway, Olofsson, Regan, Taylor, Friel, Randell, Odofin, Williams, Sinthujah, Berlin. 

Subs; Moodie


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