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Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Gillingham 3
Gillingham showed exactly why they are on top of the Premier League Southern Division and unbeaten in competitive matches with an impressive 3-0 away win over Brighton and Hove Albion at Withdean.
The win confirmed Gills as winners of League Cup Group One and was a complete performance in that they were forced to defend for much of the first half before dominating their opponents in the second. Ironically, two of Gills' three goals came when Albion were at their best from superb long range efforts by Jade Keogh and Emma Tune. Lisa Fulgence added a third after a defensive error to seal the win and the visitors went close to adding to their lead on several occasions.
Keogh opened the scoring on eight minutes, cutting in from the left before hitting a powerful right foot 25-yard lofted effort beyond Lucy Mangan. Albion responded well, Lily Agg being denied at point blank range by Faye Baker and Tammy Waine having a follow up effort blocked. Kirsty Barton and Agg went close with long range shots as Brighton piled on the pressure.
Gillingham were restricted to occasional counter attacks but always looked dangerous, as when Charlotte Gurr played in Fulgence who was just offside as she netted on 32 minutes.
Deanna Cooper was involved in two key moments at the end of the half. Firstly, a wayward pass across her own area gave Albion's Waine a good chance for the equaliser which went wide. The centre back then took the ball 60 yards to force a left wing corner from which the lead was doubled. An Albion clearance was met with a perfectly drilled 25-yard shot on the run by Tune, the ball flying in off the far post on 41 minutes.
A two-goal deficit was harsh on the hosts at the break as they had moved the ball effectively through midfield at times and forced Gillingham tor defend fo much of the opening half. However, it was the visitors who returned the stronger, Fulgence forcing Mangan into a good block after breaking clear on the left, then Cally Beaumont made a good saving tackle as the powerful front runner broke through again. The same player eventually added the third though after Albion had conceded the ball again in their own half from Gills pressure high up the field on 70 minutes.
Gilingham saw out the rest of the match comfortably. Gurr went close twice in a minute, nearly scoring direct from a corner, then firing inches wide when the ball was played back in. Fulgence was just wide from a Lauren Williams cross, then Albion's Renee Hector made a goal saving tackle as Gills finished playing with freedom and control all over the pitch.
Brighton's dsappointing return to the Withdean Stadium should be set against a fine team effort from their visitors. Solid in defence, sharp and incisive in midfield through Tune, Gurr, Lauren Davis and Jay Blackie and with pace up front, the Kent side looked a powerful unit. If Albion had converted one of several promising first half chances, the outcome might have been different, but Gillingham deserved their win.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Lucy Mangan, Sophie Perry, Renee Hector, Cally Beaumont, Charlie Carter, Kirsty Barker, Lily Agg, Yasmin Poole, Tammy Waine, Kim Stenning, Kate Natkiel. Subs: Charley Boswell, Charlotte Owen, Kim Whitcombe, Charlotte Sole, Ellie Chandler.
Gillingham: Faye Baker, Catherine Cooper, Deanna Cooper, Amy Taylor, Emma Wood, Jay Blackie, Lauren Davis, Emma Tune, Lisa Fulgence, Jade Keogh, Charlotte Gurr. Subs: Nikita Whinnett, Lauren Williams, Megan Carroll, Rikki Page, Emily Lyons.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Lily Agg battles for the ball with Emma Tune
(middle) Kate Natkiel and Jay Blackie
(bottom) Cally Beaumont in a chase for possession with Lisa Fulgence
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