Gillingham Ladies: 1 Yeovil Town Ladies: 1
YEOVIL Town Ladies travelled up to Kent at the weekend, and came away with a well-earned point, following a 1-1 draw at hosts Gillingham Ladies. Jodi Cornwall was on target for the Glovers late in the first half, cancelling out an early Gills goal, pushing her team up one place to third in the league.
“Having travelled up to Kent the night before, I was proud of the performance against tough opposition to bring home a well-earned point,” joint manager Sarah Lawler said after the game. It was a good performance from the girls, and on another day they could well have come away with all three points.”
The home team started a bit quicker than the Glovers, and despite an early attempt on goal from Stacey Pearson, Gillingham took first blood when they broke quickly out of defence, powering down the flank in eighth minute to cross in for left winger Kallie Balfour to slot the ball in the top corner of the net.
This gave Yeovil a wakeup call, and the players started to become more confident in their possession, pressing Gillingham for a decent period of the first half, creating a number of close chances. As the Glovers became more confident shots were fired in from Jodi Cornwall and again Pearson, but they could just could not get the ball into the back of the net, despite coming close on a number of occasions. The Gillingham goalkeeper was in good form, saving well from long range efforts from Rosie Williams and Jade Radburn, who had both seen opportunities to shoot as the Gillingham defenders dropped deep.
There was some good play from Pearson and Shannon Osman in the wide areas which caused Gillingham some problems, but Yeovil struggled to get on the end of the crosses to punish the opposition. Bethany Howard was making her Premier League debut for Yeovil in goal, and had a fine match. And it was she who kept her team in the game on thirty minutes when she made a vital save from a cross, deflecting the ball to safety, with the defence clearing up and playing out of trouble.
The Glovers got reward for their hard work when they levelled the match just before half time. Winning a free kick to the right of the box, Cornwall drove a ball into the near post where the ‘keeper mishandled to allow the ball to slip into the back of the net.
Going out into the second half Yeovil knew that they would be able to take a point from the game, but they were still hungry for victory, continuing to play positive football. All the players were seeing plenty of the ball as they dominated possession for long periods of the game, with the midfield and defensive units working extremely hard to win back the ball and maintain possession. Despite this the Glovers struggled to create in the final third after a number of chances went high or wide rather than testing the goalkeeper. In fairness to Gillingham, they defended deep and got bodies behind the ball which made it difficult for Yeovil to break them down. On 65 minutes the Glovers made a double change , with Kayleigh Sage and Kirsty Whitton replacing Cornwall and Osman to play a 4-4-2 formation.
Yeovil continued to have chances, with Laura Bray going one on one with the ‘keeper on a number of occasions, but unfortunately the ball went just wide each time. Rachael Edwards also went close when she dribbled through the midfield for a good shot that unfortunately went just over the bar. Sage also did well with a dangerous shot, but her effort fell just short of the target.
In short spells Gillingham would attack, but the efforts from Yeovil’s defensive unit kept them quiet, and Howard’s distribution from the back and handling was fantastic. Gillingham did have a free kick on 80 minutes after Edwards was punished for a handball 25 yards out, but this was comfortably kept out by Howard.
“There were lots of positives to take from our performance today,” Lawler said. “When you travel as far as Kent at this level you know it is not going to be an easy place to travel to and get points from, so the girls deserve credit for the way they played today, and for the character they showed to come back from 1-0 down.
“I think that today all the players realised that they really do have the ability to compete at this level, and if I was being really critical we probably had the opportunities to have taken three points home. I think that it is important that we remember that although we had our chances to win the game we also defended very well as a team, which secured this important point earned today.
“Pleasingly our possession and distribution of the ball was probably the best we have seen this year, and this has been a real focus in training, so the girls hard work is paying off. Chris (White) and I were proud of the girls today as they looked like a strong team who belong at this level.”
Yeovil Town Ladies:Howard, Brazell, Edwards, Williams, Trowbridge, Osman (Whitton – 65), Wensley, Radburn, Pearson, Bray, Cornwall (Sage – 65)
Goals:Jodi Cornwall (44)
Players Player of the Match:Bethany Howard – An impressive league debut in goal for the Glovers
Referee: Tunde Adebayo (Kent)
Next Match– Home to Cardiff City Ladies (League Cup). Sunday 02 September – Athletics Ground, Wells
Report by Sarah Lawler and Ali King