Report by Julian Hart
Gillingham Ladies secured a place in the SSE FA Women’s Cup First Round Proper with a 4th Round Qualifier away win over Aylesford Ladies on Sunday afternoon.
Gills Ladies opponents Aylesford were competing for the first time ever in the 4th Qualifying Round this season after wins against Cowfold LFC and Carshalton Athletic LFC. The hosts’ squad containing four ex Gillingham players in their ranks, the FA Cup tie look set up to be an entertaining match.
Gills manager Jack Wheeler made five changes to the previous week’s fixture at Tottenham Hotspur LFC, Wheeler handing returns to the starting eleven to Courtny Shanly, Ellie Manning, Jade Keogh, Emma Tune and Lauren Williams.
Gills started the game brightly and got an early opening goal, in the 9th minute Fliss Gibbons cut in from the right wing and beating the full back, squared the ball across the box for Emma Tune to stride onto and slot a shot into the bottom corner of the goal. 1-0
Three minutes later Gillingham doubled their lead, Tune grabbing her second of the game when her 20 yard strike beat Aylesford goalkeeper Bron Allen and deflected in off the underside of the crossbar. 2-0
With twenty minutes on the clock the hosts’ first test of the Gillingham defence saw Laura Brown try an effort on goal after collecting a loose ball in the middle of the Gills half. Rachel Ahern doing well to close down the gap between the defence and the Aylesford forward, getting in a block to stop the Aylesford forward from connecting well enough with her shot.
Aylesford again forcing Gills into action five minutes later when Beth Hulmes capitalised on a defensive slip up and charged with the ball into the box. Ahern combining with Shanly to block Hulmes as she attempted a shot on the Gills goal.
The next ten minute spell saw chances alternate at both ends for the two sides, first Gills’ defender Ellie Manning rose highest at a corner to send a header at goal. Aylesford keeper Bron Allen quick to react to stop the ball on the line as the effort looked almost certain to go in. The hosts turned defence into attack and Hulme saw a half volley on the edge of the Gills box sail wide of the target.
Gills extended their lead on the half hour mark, Gibbons turned from provider to scorer turning in a shot from close range after being set up by Jay Blackie on the edge of the box. 3-0
Gillingham made assure of the first half dominance by further adding two more before the break. First it was Gibbons grabbing her second goal of the game when her shot from inside the box found its way in past the Aylesford defence and keeper. 4-0
Then minutes before the half time interval, Lauren Williams slotting home past Allen after the Aylesford keeper had initially denied Emma Tune, the saved rebounded back to Tune who unselfishly laid it off to Williams to steer the ball home. 5-0
HALF TIME: AYLESFORD LADIES 0 GILLINGHAM LADIES 5
After the break Gills nearly extended the lead in the 49th minute, Grace Seely saw an effort turned onto the woodwork by Allen in the Aylesford goal. The hosts response nearly saw them grab a goal, Zara McAunley turning a header narrowly over the crossbar.
Despite an even opening spell in the second half, Gillingham added to their tally. With just under an hour on the clock April Bowers sent a looping shot from 25 yards over Aylesford keeper Bron Allen. 6-0
An hour into the fixture, second half substitute Lydia Wills added to the score line. Lauren Williams’ hard work on the right wing saw her break into the box from the right side, get a shot on goal but her effort was parried by Allen into the path on Wills who converted from 6 yards out. 7-0
Gills continued to press in the game and look to extend their lead. In the 73rd minute Jay Blackie rattled the crossbar from 25 yard as a long shot rebounded off the woodwork. Minute’s later in almost identical fashion to that of Blackie’s effort, April Bowers’ looping shot from distance was this time tipped over the crossbar by the fingertips of Bron Allen.
Aylesford came close to grabbing a consolation ten minutes from the end, Zara Chapman made a well timed run between the Gills defence to get a one on one chance against Shanly in the Gills goal. Chapman’s effort was straight at an outrushing keeper and Ahern cleared the loose ball from danger. Gillingham saw the last clear opportunity of the game, Lydia Wills turned a shot into the side netting of the Aylesford goal.
FULL TIME: AYLESFORD LADIES 0 GILLINGHAM LADIES 7
Aylesford Ladies: Bron Allen, Rach Jestin-Cull, Zara McAinley, Alex Witham, Alison Draper, Kim Austen, Becks Barr, Sophie Brown, Beth Hulme, Chelsea Wallace, Laura Brown
Subs: Charlea Best, Leigh Shacklock, Laurel Collins, Zara Chapman, Kristina Manktelow
Gillingham Ladies: Courtney Shanly, Ellie Manning, Grace Seely (58’ Bethany Nugent), Rachel Ahern, Lauren Williams, Emily Symonds, Jay Blackie, April Bowers, Emma Tune, Fliss Gibbons (52’ Lydia Wills), Jade Keogh
Subs: Katie Startup, Vanisha Patel, Bethany Nugent, Lydia Wills
Goals: Tune 9’,12’ Gibbons 31’, 40’ Williams 42’ Bowers 57’ Wills 59’