Gillingham Ladies won the Kent Reliance Women’s Cup with a magnificent and ruthless dismantling of a game and extremely gallant Aylesford Ladies side in front of over 500 supporters at the Gallagher Stadium.
Many had turned up hoping for a major upset but unfortunately for them and Aylesford, the Gills Ladies oozed class throughout as they took about the task of winning the Trophy for a fifth time in six seasons and as their plucky opponents wilted under the onslaught particularly in the last quarter, the Medway side were almost unstoppable, underlining just why they are the Counties top Ladies side
As he told KSN after the game, Gills manager Jack Wheeler had asked for a professional performance from his side – and didn’t he get one! “I hope that we can use such a great performance as a springboard for the rest of the season. The Girls all get along and the result is testament to the girls and the way they got the ball down and played some brilliant stuff. It shows the progression that the girls and the team have made in the last eighteen months. It’s hard to pick out individuals when they all played so well. Sadly for Aylesford, I think that’s the best we’ve played for a while and am obviously very pleased.”
For Aylesford boss Dwayne Ellis, there was nothing but pride for his side’s achievements on reaching the Final. “They were very good and you can see how they’ve been beating teams at their own level by double figure scores. We’re mid-table in the division below, set for our highest ever League finish, so how could I not be proud of my team – they worked hard and gave everything they had and I couldn’t have asked for anymore from any of them.” Smilling the coach added, “we had the early chance and if that goes in perhaps… but realistically it might have delayed what happened a little bit, but whichever way you look at it we were beaten by a far better side – congratulations to Gillingham and for ladies football in the County let’s hope that they get promoted from their League back up to the level they deserve to be at!”
But, despite literally running themselves into the ground, Aylesford were always second best as the Gills moved almost effortlessly through the gears. It “could” have been different had Becks Barr vicious in-swinging corner in the first minute not been brilliantly clawed out from underneath the bar by Gills keeper Katie Startup, or the same player not lobbed the ball back out to her across the face of goal – missing the far post by a whisker.
Sadly for Aylesford, that was as good as it got as the Gills were four in front at the break before moving through the gears in the second period. By the hour mark, the score had been doubled with Fliss Gibbons getting a seven minute hat-trick; substitute Katie Balfour then repeated the feat within twenty minutes of coming on including scoring with her first two touches with the Gills adding another six in the last fifteen minutes to complete what was a rout.
For record purposes, Gibbons netted four, whilst apart from Balfour’s treble, there were also hat-tricks for Jenny Newman, Charlotte Gurr and April Bowers with arguably the goal of the night coming from Vanisha Patel’s 30 yard first half chip.
Aylesford Ladies – Sara McFadden, Rachael Jestin-Cull, Alex Witham, Stacey Glover, Alison Draper, Becks Barr, Sophie Brown, Niamh Jestin, Olivia Jestin, Beth Hulme, Zara Chapman
Subs – Leigh Shacklock, Laura Brown, Jade Folkard, Helen Jeffries
Gillingham Ladies – Katie Startup, Millie Waud, Rachel Ahern, Vanisha Patel, Jade Keogh, April Bowers, Bethany Nugent, Lauren Davis, Charlotte Gurr, Jenny Newman, Fliss Gibbonx
Subs – Courtney Shanly, Ellie Manning, Emily Symonds, Grace Seely, Kallie Balfour
Referee – Kirsty Dowle
Assistants – Mark Bellamy, Carl Heather, Joanne Fox
Match report by Mike Green, Kent Sports News.
Match Photos by PSP Images.