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Gillingham won the Kent FA Cup for the fourth year in a row in an eight-goal thriller against London Corinthians at Maidstone United's Gallagher Stadium.
Coming from two goals down to level at the break, the Gills were pegged back before securing their hold on the trophy with all the goals coming before the 65th minute. with several spectacular finishes to entertain the crowd.
Gillingham had an early chance when Ashlee Hincks was denied by keeper Courtney Harvey but Corinthians took the lead when a free kick was flicked on by Adele Keech for Emily Hart to fire past Courtney Shanley on 21 minutes. Katherine Long made it two four minutes later with a powerful close range finish from a Hannah Tichener cross after an initial corner had been scrambled away.
The Premier League team needed a quick response and Hincks provided it, rolling in a Lauren Phillips cross and then Emma Tune thumping in a 12-yard header in off the underside of the bar from Louise Lorton's cross to level the score. Corinthians were very close to regaining the lead when Keech struck a low shot which rebounded to safety off a post.
The London & South East Regional League side had given the holders several anxious moments in a thrilling first half and the pace did not relent on the restart. Gills got ahead when an inswinging corner was punched into the net by keeper Harvey on 47 minutes but Corinthians were level very quickly with a superb lobbed finish from 25 yards by Hart.
Gillingham regained the lead within five minutes with a fine run and finish from distance by Lorton and extended their advantage with an equally spectacular strike by Hincks after good work from Tune on 64 minutes. That was the end of the scoring but Shanley was tested by Long and sub Hannah Riddoch struck the woodwork as Corinthians went down fighting as the clock ran down.
Gillingham could celebrate their excellent achievement of four in a row and London Corinthians could reflect on their big part in a very exciting match.
Gillingham: Courtney Shanley, Lauren Williams, Ellie Manning, Emma Tune, Emma Michelmore, Emily Lyons, Louise Lorton, Charlotte Long, Lauren Phillips, Ashlee Hincks, Sophie Brown. Subs: Charlie Thurston, Chloe Cavenagh.
London Corinthians: Courtney Harvey, Kayla Murphy, Chanel Richards, Lauren Wallace, Alex Fagan, Hannah Tichener, Adele Keech, Issy Michalski, Emily Hart, Megan Mansfield, Katherine Long. Subs: Claire Jenner, Hannah Riddoch, Kristi Nunnick, Claire Williams.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Issy Michalski battles for the ball with Emma Tune
(middle) Ellie Manning tries an overhead kick away from Megan Mansfield
(bottom) Gillingham with the trophy
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