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Gillingham 0 West Ham Utd 2
West Ham United boosted their hopes of promotion to the National Division with a 2-0 win over Gillingham at Lordswood FC on Wednesday evening.
Two late goals saw the Hammers into second place with a final match away at Brighton on Sunday. Cardiff can still overtake them even if Hammers win as they still have two matches left. Gillingham are now condemned to the bottom two places, with Yeovil requiring a two-goal win at Portsmouth on Sunday to send Gills down automatically. This result was good news for both Brighton & Hove Albion and Queen's Park Rangers whose Premier League status is now secure.
The defeat was very harsh on Gillingham who played very well, created numerous chances and ran into an inspired goalkeeper in Nikki Duncan, standing in for the suspended Toni-Anne Wayne. West Ham had scarcely created a single chance before Carly Roache and then Nina Downham punished defensive weaknesses to leave Gills in despair.
Nat Crinean showed Gillingham's positive intent by running straight through the Hammers defence but shot straight at the keeper. Danni Farmer was at the heart of a storming first half show, setting up Lauren Phillips and then Leah Jones, whose header hit the bar. Continued pressure up till the break failed to bring the home side a breakthrough although Katie Duffy's goal had rarely been threatened.
Gills' Deanna Cooper nearly found a way through on 49 minutes but no one was on hand to turn in her cross. Crinean then set up Phillips, whose shot was headed off the line by Rosey Sullivan. Phillips again went close before Farmer produced a fine save from Duncan to beat out a powerful ten yard cross shot from a Jones corner.
Jones was denied again by Duncan from a free kick three minutes later as Gills did everything but score. Danielle Carlton came forward well from left back all evening and she went close with
As so often happens, a sudden counter attack catches out the dominant team. A cross from the right found Carly Roache unmarked twelve yards out and she looped a shot beyond Duffy's dive for the lead on 77 minutes. West Ham grew in confidence and within seven minutes, Nina Downham raced past the last defender and finished confidently for the killer second goal. Sub Temi Opemiyan nearly pulled a goal back with a fine run and shot inches wide but the damage had been done.
Gillingham will await the result of Yeovil's trip to Portsmouth to learn if their season will be extended with a May 15th play-off to keep their Premier League status against the winning team from the Combination play-off or whether they will be making a quick return to the South East Combination after one season.
Gillingham: Katie Duffy, Lauren Williams, Danielle Carlton, Deanna Cooper, Sarah Jones, Sian Cheedy, Leah Jones, Vicky Ashton-Jones, Natalie Crinean, Daniella Farmer, Lauren Phillips. Subs:
Charlotte Abbott, Kylie Overton, Whitney Judd, Temi Opemiyan, Jodie Mugford.
West Ham Utd: Nikki Duncan, Joanne Woodgates, Danica Revell, Rosey Sullivan, Natalie Grafton, Emma Thomas, Stacey Little, Carly Roache, Tracey Duxbury, Becky Merritt, Nina Downham. Subs: Gemma Shepherd, Kayleigh Xidhas, Joanne Wosahlo, Ruby Southgate.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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