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Gillingham won their first trophy since 2001 when they lifted the Kent County Cup at Sevenoaks on Thursday with a hard fought 1-0 win over Millwall Lionesses Reserves.
The winning goal came courtesy of Becky Lyon who forced the ball home in a goalmouth scramble following a corner. It was fitting that the centre back and club captain was the scorer as she is one of two players who was at Gills when they last won this trophy nine years ago.
The opening moments of the game led to a nasty injury to Gills striker Ashlee Hincks who suffered a suspected broken arm in the first challenge, five seconds after the whistle. A quick reorganisation was necessary with Amy Russ replacing Hincks, who was taken to hospital.
Millwall had the first chance when Shauni Griffiths rattled the bar from distance with Katie Duffy beaten. Gills also hit the woodwork, twice in two minutes as Natalie Crinean, from 20 yards, struck the bar and Danni Farmer hit the post. This flurry of early action was replaced by a tighter battle with Gills containing the Lionesses well and Crinean and Farmer making a number of dangerous breaks, combining well with Vicky Ashton-Jones on the right. Eve Gilroy at the heart of the Millwall defence used her experience to organise her teammates to ensure that the scoresheet was blank at the break.
Gills continued to call on the pace and trickery of Farmer who nearly scored on 50 minutes after breaking clear on the left, but Gilroy was able to clear from the line. Millwall's young team played a fine brand of passing football at times and Francesca Ali in midfield had an increasing influence as her team sought the opening goal. The closest they came was a break by Katie Fitzgerald on 70 minutes which brought a good sprawling double save from Gills keeper Duffy.
The winner came from a disputed corner when Farmer had a shot across goal. The set piece landed in a scrum of players and it was Lyon who turned the ball in on 75 minutes. Millwall pressed forward with great heart for the remainder of the match, but Gills stood firm with Lyon and Kelly Herrett solid in central defence.
After a nerve wracking amount of added time for Gillingham, with the spirited Lionesses still pushing hard, the final whistle confirmed that the long wait was over for the Gills and that Millwall would be runners-up for the second year in a row after an impressive effort.
Gillingham will hope to seal the South East Combination title very soon and have a League Cup Final to look forward to against Norwich City on May 2nd as they seek to emulate Barnet's achievement of the 'treble' in 2005-06.
Gillingham: Katie Duffy, Whitney Judd, Becky Lyon, Kelly Herrett, Lesley Kay, Rachel Ahern, Laura East, Daniella Farmer, Natalie Crinean, Ashlee Hincks, Vicky Ashton-Jones. Subs: Ruth Jackson, Amy Russ, Annelle Massey, Charlotte Abbott, Kate Foster.
Millwall Lionesses Res: Chantelle Brown, Sophie Rackham, Demi Brown Stacey McConville, Eve Gilroy, Joanna Gibson, Demi Rowe, Katie Wyatt, Francesca Ali, Katie Fitzgerald, Shauni Griffiths. Subs: Jenny Canty, Rochelle Scott, Lily Langton, Grace Seely.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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