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SSE Women's FA Cup - Road to the Final
Herne Bay made the long trip to Bristol Ladies Union a worthwhile one as Carly Farrow, Gemma Sullivan and an own goal gave them a 3-1 victory. Their next journey will be a considerably short one, a Kent derby tie against Gillingham, who reached this stage by beating AFC Wimbledon 7-0, thanks to Kallie Balfour (2), Ashleigh Loosemore, April Bowers, Shannon Redhouse, Lauren Williams and an own goal.
In the summer of 2008, Gillingham Football Club took control of Gillingham Ladies FC in order to create a path for player progression for their Centre of Excellence players. Martin Andrews was appointed Manager of the Club whilst GFC over saw the club's operations. The club became independent of the club later on its history and was led by Andrews during this spell. In order to push forwards as a professional team, Martin appointed Ian Varley as manager. Over that summer, Varley oversaw the team as it moved from a park field location to Lordswood Football Club. The club then enjoyed an immensely successful period, winning the South East Combination League by ten points and bringing home the Kent Cup for the first time in nine years.
The Gills debut season in the Southern Division was something of a learning curve and the Ladies struggled to adapt to their new surroundings at Chatham Town FC. Gills did enjoy some outstanding victories beating Charlton and Cardiff, the two teams promoted, away from home. Gills Ladies finished eighth in the League after a play-off game against Havant and Waterlooville to stay in the division.
In 2012-13, Varley left the club and was replaced by James Marrs. Although the team struggled in his first season for league wins, they excelled in cup competitions winning the Kent Cup, Ryman Women's Cup and progressing to the fourth round of the FA Cup. Marrs introduced assistant Jack Wheeler amongst many other additions to the club staff and the club was propelled to one of its most enjoyable and successful seasons. The club retained the Kent Women's Cup and Ryman League Cup, beating their own record in the FA Cup by reaching the Fifth Round of the competition before being knocked out by holders and eventual winners Arsenal. Besides this, the team enjoyed their most successful season in the FA Women's Premier League, being pipped by Coventry City to the title in a show stopping final match of the season. The club's success led to Marrs winning Kent FA's Coach of the Year 2013-14 award.
Marrs then made the decision to leave Gills for FA WPL counterparts Brighton & Hove Albion. In his place, Gills recruited former club legend Simon Ratcliffe to take the reins and lead the re-growth of the team, following several departures of first team players over the summer to Sussex. The club announced the most exciting partnership in its history back in June. Officially coming under Gillingham FC, the club works with the teams to propel the women's game in Kent even further, putting Gillingham Ladies in its strongest and most sustainable position ever. There was also a managerial change with the club coming under the joint leadership of Darren Hare and Jack Wheeler.
Part way through the 2015-16 season there was a leadership reshuffle with Jack Wheeler taking full control as Manager, allowing Darren Hare to oversee the women's team alongside his other duties as Head of Gillingham FC Academy. There was also two additions to the coaching set up with Pauline Cope-Boanas (Goalkeeper coach) and Kirsty Dowle (sport psychology), both will provide great support to Jack and the team this season. Lauren Williams is this season's first team captain.
The eagerly anticipated match takes place at Chatham Town FC, 2pm kick off.
Gillingham (from): Courtney Shanly, Lauren Williams, Vanisha Patel, Emma Tune, Charlie Thurston, Rachel Ahern, Katie Hardaker, Shannon Redhouse, Jade Keogh, Ashleigh Loosemore, Imogen Alabaster, Kallie Balfour, Chelsea Wallace, Georgia Reece, Madison North, Lydia Wills, Fiona Constable, Megan Maslak.
Herne Bay (from): Debbie Blackmore, Emily Brown, Emma Brown, Sarah Cooper, Carly Farrow, Amber Guyatt, Bethany Nugent, Alex Roy, Gemma Sullivan, Rachel Tracy, Amanda Beeput, Shona Clark, Kayleigh Mount, Mollie Proctor, Lucy Harrington, Nicola Morris, Vicky Holness, Harriet Chapman, Danni Farmer.
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