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Gillingham 3 Queen's Park Rangers 0
Gillingham gained a valuable 3-0 win over Queen's Park Rangers to put some distance between themselves and their opponents in the Southern Division of the Premier League.
The season has barely gone beyond the halfway point for many clubs but already matches between teams in the lower half of the table are taking on extra significance. Rangers had beaten Gills 2-0 at home so the Kent team were keen to reverse their fortunes on their own pitch and move towards mid-table.
Three first half goals settled the outcome but Rangers fought hard and went close on several occasions to reducing the deficit in the second period as Gills were unable to capitalise on chances of their own to put the game away. Gillingham deserved their victory with a good team performance to set them up for an FA Women's Cup tie with National League high fliers Reading next week.
A nervy start by the hosts saw QPR go close to taking the lead early when a sliced defensive clearance went just wide of goal and Mel Bidewell put a header over the top from the corner. However, Gills were soon dominating play. Emily Bourne did well to deny Natalie Crinean and when Danielle Farmer raced into the penalty area from the left a rebound from a sliding tackle was cleverly backheeled by Crinean right across the goal where Lauren Philips was waiting to pounce towards the far post on nine minutes.
The second goal arrived not long after when a flowing move took the ball out to Lauren Williams overlapping on the right. The full back hit a delightful cross on the run towards Nat Crinean on the near post and she looped a header across the goal which dropped just under the bar leaving Emily Bourne helpless.
QPR shook off these setbacks well and dominated possession for a while with Cherelle Albert looking for openings and Sophie Fogerty playing effectively on the wing but the Gills defence held firm, giving Becky Spencer little to do. Danielle Farmer hit a shot over the bar on the half hour and the crucial third goal gave the home team breathing space.
Laura Jeffery, who impressed throughout with her close control, hold up play and powerful running, got a 20-yard drive away which Bourne reached but could not hold and it was Phillips again who was on the spot to score from close in.
Gills twice came close to adding to their lead after the break from long range efforts just over, first from Crinean and then Danielle Carlton on 55 minutes. Rangers then had their best spell of the match as Spencer had to be very quick off her line to foil Albert and especially Fogerty as they were played in behind the Gills back line by Beth Curtis. Albert was showing why she is such a dangerous player, turning past two defenders in the box before firing inches wide. Spencer then made a fine diving save to deny the same player as QPR did much of the attacking through the middle of the half.
One goal back might have led to a nervy final fifteeen minutes for the Gills, but it never came. The home side, with Jeffrey, Farmer and Crinean prominent, always carried a threat themselves, Crinean launching a 20 yard shot which Bourne caught acrobatically to her left on 78 minutes. QPR had one final effort when the hard working Beth Curtis hit a wicked corner which appeared to deflect away to safety off the bar but Gills saw out the final minutes for a good win.
Queen's Park Rangers and Gillingham have both been on disappointing runs recently, the West Londoners struggling for goals and the Kent side losing out in some close matches in the League. Gills gained a morale boosting three points and it is Rangers who now need a lift to kick start their season.
Gilingham: Becky Spencer, Lauren Williams, Danielle Carlton, Deanna Cooper, Sarah Jones, Sian Cheedy, Danielle Farmer, Lauren Phillips, Laura Jeffery, Jodie Mugford, Natalie Crinean. Subs: Becky Lyon, Stacey McConville, Isabella Martin.
Queen's Park Rangers: Emily Bourne, Mel Bidewell, Seun Odeniyi, Simone Dwyer, Hannah Curnow, Nav Boparai, Anita Afonso, Elly Maggs, Cherelle Albert, Beth Curtis, Sophie Fogerty. Subs: Tammy Scrivens, Louise Naylor.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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