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Gillingham 13 Norwich City 0
Gillingham clinched the FAWPL South East Division One title with two matches to spare after a comprehensive home victory over a depleted Norwich City at K Sports.
The undefeated Gills will return to the Southern Division after two seasons with a superb series of wins over recent months. Their task was made easier on the day by the visitors travelling from Norfolk with nine players and then losing two more to serious injury but there was plenty for the three figure crowd to appreciate in the champions' display.
Charlotte Gurr scored a twenty minute hat-trick at the start, the pick of which was the third, heading home the rebound from her initial header off the bar. Norwich keeper Laura Hartley made the first of many saves to deny Fliss Gibbons before the prolific scorer added the fourth, shooting home via a covering defender on 29 minutes.
Jenny Newman scored the best goal of the game with a perfectly struck volley on 31 minutes. Norwich were reduced to eight when Summer Ward suffered an ankle injury before Gibbons added the sixth with a good finish on 37 minutes. Vanisha Patel had an effort well saved to keep the deficit down at the break.
An own goal on 46 minutes and an eighth by April Bowers soon after threatened a complete rout, but the seven outfield Canaries battled tirelessly to keep Gillingham at bay, It took a totally freak goal to finally break their resistance, when a well struck clearance towards touch hit Gibbons on the head and flew into the net from 15 yards to sum up a miserable day for the visitors.
Worse was to follow when Hartley, making another brave save, took an accidental kick in the side. Fiona Coombes, playing at right back today but for many seasons the starting Norwich keeper, was forced to put on the gloves again, protected by the six remaining outfield players.
Unsurprisingly, further goals came, Gurr got her fourth on 77 minutes then sub Bethany Nugent set up Newman for the eleventh before scoring herself from Emily Symonds' cross .Gibbons rounded off the scoring and Gillingham were able to celebrate, receiving the League trophy from FAWPL officials.
The match, designated 'Ladies and Girls Day' by the host club with a range of well organised supporting events, was a fitting celebration of outstanding achievement in winning a competitive league in style.
Courtney Shanly, Vanisha Patel, Fliss Gibbons, Jade Keogh, Jenny Newman, Charlotte Gurr, Emily Symonds, Grace Seely, Catherine Cooper, April Bowers, Ellie Manning. Subs: Millie Waud, Bethany Nugent, Rachel Ahern.
Laura Hartley, Erin Wilson, Summer Ward, Brooke Osborne, Ellen Swift, Fiona Coombes, Aimee Durrant, Chelsea Garrett, Millie Daviss.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Erin Wilson tussles with Fliss Gibbons
(middle) Jade Keogh under pressure from Summer Ward
(bottom) Fiona Coombes tries to stop Grace Seely
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