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Tottenham Hotspur 3 Gillingham 0
FAWPL Southern Division leaders Tottenham Hotspur, unbeaten so far this season, progressed into the Third Round of the SSE Women's FA Cup with a 3-0 home win over Gillingham.
The final score, however, does not tell the story of a well contested match. The lower ranked visitors, whose only defeat had come against Spurs in the Premier League Cup, created and missed a string of chances in the first two thirds of the match and then were made to pay when Spurs took advantage of two defensive errors to establish a lead and seal the win with a late third.
The early play was end-to-end with Gills' Fliss Gibbons testing Toni-Anne Wayne from distance and Bianca Baptiste seeing a low cross scrambled away. Kelley Blanchflower had a 20-yard effort which flew over Gillingham keeper Katie Startup's bar but it was the visitors who went very close on 16 minutes. Charlotte Gurr had a shot which hit the post and Wayne, at full stretch, tipped Gibbons' follow up shot over the bar.
Gibbons was through on goal on 19 minutes but shot straight at Wayne as the visitors moved ball quickly and fluently in the final third. Back came Spurs as Baptiste fired narrowly wide after good work from Nikita Whinett and Lucia Leon. Startup saved confidently from Sophie McLean on the half hour but Gills were denied by a fine Wayne save low to her right as Gibbons again outpaced the Spurs defence.
Another excellent build up between Jade Keogh, Jay Blackie and Gurr saw Gibbons shoot wide from a tight angle and the visitors went into the break having created the better chances and having defended soundly.
Startup produced a superb save in the 46th minute reaching high into the top left corner to tip over Baptiste's powerful 15-yard shot on the turn. Blanchflower shot wide under pressure as Spurs started the second half well but Gillingham were soon threatening again. A long throw found Gurr who beat her marker before setting Gibbons for a shot inches wide. Keogh then had an excellent chance to give the visitors the lead when a left wing cross found her ten yards out but she volleyed wide on 69 minutes.
Spurs took the lead when pressure on a short goal kick forced a loose pass across the Gills area and sub Maya Vio took advantage to rob a defender and score on 73 minutes. Worse was to follow for the Gills as Startup could only help a lofted Baptiste shot into the net on 76 minutes and Spurs were suddenly two goals to the good.
Baptiste, who had a fine match, notched the third when she outpaced the defence late on. Denied at first by a fine save by Startup. the Spurs forward calmly rolled home the rebound to complete a final score which was very harsh on Gillingham, who had played well for so long and had troubled a strong Spurs defence which had only conceded three goals in ten FAWPL Southern Division matches before Christmas.
Toni-Anne Wayne, Lucia Leon, Leah Rawle, Sophie McLean, Rhianna Soobadoo, Josie Green, Bianca Baptiste, Nikita Whinnett, Jenna Schillaci, Renee Hector, Kelley Blanchflower. Subs: Megen Lynch, Eartha Pond Wendy Martin, Maya Vio.
Katie Startup, Millie Waud, Emily Symonds, Ellie Manning, Jay Blackie, Vanisha Patel, April Bowers, Fliss Gibbons, Jade Keogh, Charlotte Gurr, Grace Seeley. Subs: Lauren Davis, Bethany Nugent.
Report by Patrick Higgins
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Kelley Blanchflower is tackled by Millie Waud
(middle) Eartha Pond slides in to challenge Lauren Davis
(bottom) Josie Green battles with Fliss Gibbons
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