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Gillingham 8 Norwich City 2
Gillingham gave an outstanding display of attacking power to claim a place in the second round of the FAWPL Cup with an 8-2 win over Norwich City at Corinthian FC.
Four goals in each half reflected the dominance of the hosts over the Canaries, who had defeated higher league opposition in the Determining Round of the competition but were unable to cope with the variety of attacking options which Gills possessed. Seven different names on the scoresheet for the hosts gives an idea of just how fluent the Gills' attack was.
Norwich keeper Fiona Coombes had already made two good saves from Fliss Gibbons before Amy Taylor beat the offside flag to slot in the opener on 17 minutes. Emma Tune scored a top corner beauty from distance before April Bowers added the third, set up by Keogh's cross and Amy Taylor's pass. Coombes made another fine block at her near post to deny Taylor and the visitors reduced the arrears on 42 minutes when Kyla Love played in Chelsea Garrett for a neat first finish on the run.
Any hopes of a Canary come back were short lived as Gibbons cleverly played in Emily Symond for a good curling finish right on the break. Playing down the slope, the Gills camped in the Norwich half for the opening fifteen minutes of the second half but could not convert their chances. Norwich then created chances of their own just after the hour. Brooke Osborne had a shot from distance tipped onto the bar by Courtney Shanly and the Gills keeper then distinguished herself with two saves from Garrett close range efforts.
Within a minute, at the other end, Gibbons was foiled by an excellent save from Coombes, keeping out a low shot at the expense of a corner. The reprieve was short lived as Gibbons' delivery was nodded home by Keogh on the far post. The roles were reversed a few minutes later as Gibbons glanced home a Keogh corner for the sixth on 70 minutes.
Young substitute keeper Ellie Bird replaced Coombes and was soon in action. Tune won a free kick with superb battling against three opponents and sent a delivery towards the far corner. Bird did well to tip the ball away and was unfortunate to see the ball turned home by Gills sub Bethany Nugent in the scramble on 83 minutes.
The defiant Canaries struck another fine consolation from Garrett off the underside of the bar within a minute but possibly the best goal of the ten was Keogh's second effort on 90 minutes, a 30-yard effort in the top right corner of Bird's goal, a fitting end to a fine display.
Gillingham had attacking threats throughout the match but equally impressive was the hard work put into winning the ball back when attacks broke down. Norwich had good spells when they matched their opponents and some good individual performances but were forced into deep defence for much of the contest by fluent and impressive teamwork from the hosts.
Gillingham: Courtney Shanly, Vanisha Patel, Emma Tune, Charlotte Thurston, Rachel Ahern, Fliss Gibbons, Jade Keogh, Amy Taylor, Emily Symond, Grace Seeley, April Bowers. Subs: Harriett Chapman, Katie Hardaker, Bethany Nugent, Lydia Wills, Ellie Manning.
Norwich City: Fiona Coombes, Brooke Osborne, Erin Wilson, Ebony Wiseman, Kate Parsons, Bryony Radley, Ellen Swift, Natasha Snelling, Chelsea Garrett, Jodie Drake, Kyla Love. Subs: Emma Faux, Ellie Bird.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Chelsea Garrett scores for Norwich City past Rachel Ahern
(middle) April Bowers challenges Ebony Wiseman
(bottom) Emma Tune takes on Kyla Love
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