Gillingham Ladies FC kicked off the new FA Women’s Premier League South East Division One season with a draw at Luton Town Ladies. A goal early after the half time break gave the hosts the lead, but Fliss Gibbons levelled the score line on her second Gills debut, after she re-signed for the club this summer.
In a blustery, sunny and occasionally rainy Bedfordshire, The first effort of the game fell to the hosts, Luton forward Joanne Rutherford latched onto a through ball and sent a low shot wide of the right side post. Minutes later Gillingham did find themselves in on goal and the ball in the net, however Fliss Gibbons’ effort was ruled out for offside.
Both sides came close to opening the score line with quarter of an hour on the clock, first Gibbons again found space to make her way on goal and was denied the opener by Jessica Devoti in the Luton goal. Luton would then counter attack, the break away caused the Gills defence to panic and it took for Gills keeper Courtney Shanly to collect the ball in the air to bring the Luton attacking threat to an end.
With 25 minutes on the clock, Gillingham had a shout for a penalty. Gibbons made it past one defender before two Luton players collided into her and Gibbons went down under the challenge. The referee waved away the protest from Gillingham to award the spot kick.
Gillingham were the side closest on target as the half time whistle approached, again it was Gibbons who in the game was finding the runs and space, this time she saw her effort crash off the corner of the woodwork and wide to safety. Lauren Williams then tested the Luton keeper with a shot but it was easily dealt with by Devoti.
Half Time: Luton Town LFC 0 Gillingham LFC 0
Five minutes after the break Luton were to snatch the opening goal, a clever through ball down the centre of the field from Michelle Byrne found Dionne Manning who managed to pass Rachel Ahern and sneak a shot round Shanly and into the far corner of the goal. 1-0
Gillingham Ladies’ pressing to get back into the game was almost immediate, April Bowers trying her luck after finding time to get a shot on goal while out wide of the penalty box. Her effort was not strong enough and was scooped up by the Luton goalkeeper.
But just 4 minutes after conceding the goal, Gills were level. Fliss Gibbons was able to convert her chance this time, turning in a low shot into the bottom corner from ten yards out. 1-1
The remaining half an hour fell into a tight affair in which both teams only managed a clear chance a piece, first Luton saw Manning test Shanly with a shot from distance and the Gills keeper dealt with ease. In the closing minutes Gillingham with a corner, Katie Hardaker’s delivery was narrowly over Charlie Thurston’s head and with a good enough contact the goal was there for taking. As the whistle blew both sides had to settle for a point but both could have had more with the spurned chances.
Full Time: Luton Town LFC 1 Gillingham LFC 1
Gillingham continue the start of the new FA Women’s Premier League season with a home fixture against Milton Keynes Dons LFC next Sunday at their new home ground at Corinthians Sports Club, Longfield. Come and #RoarUsOn and why not buy a season ticket which will be available at the turnstile. Join us for the season for just £25 for Adults. Any purchases of season tickets will receive a FREE fixture poster of all the GLFC games for the 2016-17 season.