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Gillingham booked their place in the South East Combination League Cup Final after a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Enfield Town at the weekend.
It is their first final appearance for eight years and shows just how far the side have come under the guidance of Ian Varley.
He couldn't have done it without his players of course and once again this weekend, Ashlee Hincks and Danni Farmer got a goal each but the star of the show was Vicky Ashton-Jones who bagged an important brace.
It was just last season that the Gills went out at the semi final stage at the hands of Enfield, so it is all the more pleasing for the Gills to go one step further this season, and gain some revenge over their opponents as well.
Manager Ian Varley shuffled his pack slightly from the side that beat Ashford in the Kent Cup last time out. Kelly Herrett came back into the centre of defence as Rachel Ahern pushed up from defence to midfield as Natalie Crinean missed out through injury.
The Gills were very much the favourites for this game, and they took the lead in the 12th minute when captain Becky Lyon played one of her trade mark pinpoint balls out of the defence. Ashlee Hincks latched onto it and raced clear of the Enfield defence before finding Vicky Ashton-Jones who finished the move with a great left foot shot in off the post.
Just eight minutes later and Enfield found themselves on level terms after a Sara Sinclair shot was parried away by Katie Duffy. Unfortunately for the Gills stopper the shot was palmed into the path of Emma Thomas who gratefully slotted home.
The Gills were struggling to get out of second gear and assert themselves on the game, perhaps due to the fact that for the first time in many years they were favourites to win the game.
In the 25th minute, Ashton-Jones nearly got her second goal of the game when she raced through and attempted to lob the Enfield keeper, only to see her effort crash off the bar. This seemed to spur the Gills into life as just five minutes later and the away side made it 2-1 when Ashlee Hincks found the back of the net.
Deanna Cooper, who has been a revelation this season, won the ball wide on the left where she found herself playing due to the injury to striker Natalie Crinean. Once she won the ball off of Enfield she whipped in a cross that found Hincks unmarked just inside the Enfield area, and she rifled home a shot with her left foot.
That was the way it stayed for the rest of the first half, and the Gills were the happier of the two sided heading into half time with a slender lead.
Manager Ian Varley made a few positional changes in the second half and a devastating ten minute spell effectively sealed Gillingham a spot in the Cup Final.
In the 49th minute Ashlee Hincks, who found herself playing the lone striker role, raced forward and played a great ball through to Ashton-Jones who had too much pace for the Enfield defence and she calmly slotted home a well timed effort into the corner of the net for 3-1.
Two minutes later and the result was put beyond any doubt when Cooper once again was the architect after more good work. She found Hincks and the ball was deflected in the air and Danni Farmer sprung into action. Not to be left out of the scoring, the attacking midfielder slid in and expertly swept the ball into the back of the net for her 15th goal of the season.
After that the game was over as a spectacle as Enfield had failed to test the Gills back line for most of the afternoon. The Gills had the belief that they were going to secure a spot in their first cup final for eight years and their performance on the afternoon, just underlined that fact.
It was all in all a comfortable passage into the Final for Ian Varley's side and the players can be proud of their commitment and performances in all they have so far achieved this season. The Gills will face Norwich City in the Final - a team that they will have to play three times in the coming months with both the League title and the League Cup up for grabs.
(Report by Chris Dicketts)
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