Gillingham Ladies Lift the Kent Women’s Cup!
Gillingham Ladies FC 1-0 Gillingham Ladies FC Development
Gillingham Ladies claimed another Kent Cup title but were made to work so hard for it by their own Development team that in the end just a coat of paint on the Gillingham End goal at Priestfield stopped the game from going into extra time.
For long periods it looked as though Gillingham Ladies would win comfortably for after scoring through Sharna Giordani, they dominated and only an inspired goal-keeping display from Cara Davies kept the score line to one-nil. But slowly and surely the Development side got into the game and were so desperately unfortunate not to have forced extra time at the death when a last ditch effort hit the outside of the frame of the goal.
The Ladies manager Jack Wheeler was understandably delighted. “It was a massive positive for us as a club to have both teams in the Final,” he told KSN after the game. “It was tough for some of them dealing with the complacency, but we set out to win the game and that’s what we did. Could we have played better? Of course but we got the result. It was a great opportunity for some of the Development Squad to put themselves in the shop window and they did well to do that! Winning the Cup is winning the Cup and its always a nice positive for the Club to get its name on the trophy. And I’m delighted that we’ve got a Development Squad who want to turn up and give us a real run for the money!”
Not that Development boss Richard Gurney was too disappointed. Indeed, with a huge grin on his face – the one you normally see from Cup winners, he told KSN, “I’m over the moon with the girls today and what they’ve achieved over the season – they gave everything they could today with just twelve players. I thought we were the better side really in honesty and were so unlucky not to have nicked it at the end! So disappointed but never ever prouder of the girls – it didn’t surprise me how close we got – I knew we were good enough and I knew we had the ability today. I think we surprised them as they looked very nervy on the touch line at the end and I think if we’d have scored, we could have won. It was a terrific advert for Kent ladies’ football – we’ve played in a League One stadium and I can’t have asked any more from them especially with just twelve players!”
The Ladies made the dream start as they were ahead within three minutes, after a corner had been cleared back to her, Maddison Farrand crossed to back post Giordini and Esmee Sword arrived together it was Giordini getting the crucial touch to force the ball home. Farrand undoubtedly had the Ladies next chance – a free kick that whistled a yard wide from 30 yards.
The Ladies formed a tight Blue and Black line across Priestfield – one that the Development side really struggled to breach. And so, it was left to the Ladies to continue to create the best chances as Vicky Ashton-Jones shot against the bar from distance – keeper Cara Davies recovering brilliantly to deny Daisy Monaghan to the rebound. The keeper then excelled by firstly clawing Rachel Ahern’s lob away before magnificently turning aside Monaghan’s low driven follow-up.
The second period began in similar fashion with keeper Davies quick off her line to deny Farrand again as she burst through.
The Development side then had their best chances, Esmee Sword sprinted away down the right only to see her shot hammer into Courtney Shanly’s mid-rift in the Ladies goal in front of her left post.
Back came the ladies and after a series of substitutions wrecked the flow of the game, one of the Ladies subs Breon Grant tested Davies but again she was up to the task – beating out the shot. Next time, Grant found room at a corner for a free header that sailed into the deserted Rainham End.
As time began to run out the Ladies were finally forced back for a spell and Beth Senior had a shot that had Shanly scrambling across her goal to save, before in the next attack the keeper saved bravely at Sword’s feet.
The Development side staged a real grandstand and so very nearly forced extra time as first Georgia Richards went down in the box under loud shouts for a penalty which were waved away by referee Hewson, before the ball was played wide to Gemma Cumby. Her ball to the back post was met by the sliding stretch Sword but she could just reach out far enough as she directed the ball onto the outside of the post.
The final whistle blew shortly after and the cheers from the Gillingham Ladies were surely that of relief as with a bit more “development”, their opponents will certainly be knocking on the first team’s door…
GILLINGHAM LADIES FC – Courtney Shanly, Rachel Ahern (Sammy Booker 64), Lydia Huntley, Vicky Ashton-Jones, Millie Waud, Bethany Powell, Chloe Fowler, Daisy Monaghan, Sharna Giordani (Lauren George 73), Alice Bussey, Maddison Farrand (Breon Grant 64)
GILLINGHAM LADIES FC DEVELOPMENT – Cara Davies, Georgia Richards, Faith Cullen-Cooper, Olivia Jestin, Sydney Davies, Lauren Parsons, Gia Portelli (Scarlett Kelly 73), Sophie Chapman, Gemma Cumby, Beth Senior, Esmee Sword
Subs – Sade Rider & Scarlett Kelly
REFEREE – Myles Hewson
ASSISTANTS – Harry Graham & Alan Faulkner
FOURTH OFFICIAL – Ian Marriott
ATTENDANCE - 250
PLAYER OF THE MATCH - Cara Davies