Gillingham’s representatives St Simon Stock Catholic School clinch victory in the Area FinalsFor the third successive season the school team representing Gillingham FC at the Area Finals have progressed through to the Regional Finals of the Football League Girls Cup.
The team from St Simon Stock Catholic School, who won the Local Final of The Football League Girls Cup back in November, travelled to the Area Finals being hosted by Southend United on Thursday. The school are no strangers to this stage of the competition having progressed all the way to the Regional Finals in 2012, narrowly missing out on a place at Wembley to a last second goal in the final of the Regional Finals.
The girls had already battled their way past 22 other teams in order to reach the Area Finals and came up against other school teams representing AFC Wimbledon, Charlton, Colchester, Dagenham & Redbridge, Leyton Orient, Millwall and Southend. Expectations were high as The Gills had won the Area Finals for the past two year, with Rainham School for Girls making it all the way to Wembley last season and of course St Simon Stock successful the previous season.
The teams were split into two groups of four with Gillingham to face Charlton, Colchester and AFC Wimbledon. Kitted out in Gills link away kit the girls took on Charlton in their first game and dominated from the start, with chance after chance narrowly missing the target. The girls continued to press and were rewarded with the winner during the second half, comfortably seeing out the win.
Next up were Colchester, the girls dominated the game again and didn’t waste a chance as they eased to a 5-1 victory. AFC Wimbledon were dispatched next in an impressive display that ended 2-0, which saw them top their group and set up a semi-final against Leyton Orient.
In their semi-final against the O’s the girls were in control once again but couldn’t find the back of the net with countless chances. It wasn’t until the last minute that they made a chance count to get the decisive winner to qualify for the final against hosts Southend United.
The final was a close match with neither team able to put their stamp on the game. Both goalkeepers were tested and both made some superb saves to keep the score 0-0 at the end of normal time. The action was end to end in extra time with both teams determined to get the winner but as the clock ticked down neither team could resulting in a dreaded penalty shoot-out.
With the order decided Southend stepped up first and slotted home as did the Gills, Southend scored with their next two, but Gills missed with their third, the ball hitting the underside of the bar but bouncing out to pile the pressure on. A great save from the Gills keeper denied Southend their fourth, while the Gills calmly tucked away theirs, Southend’s fifth then clipped the post and went wide, and the Gills buried their fifth in the back of the net to the delight of the team and supporters.
The girls were worthy winners, having not dropped a point throughout and only conceding the one goal. The will now continue on to the Regional Finals which will be hosted by Watford FC in the week commencing February 10.
We would like to say a massive thank you to the team, Freya, Paige, Olivia, Niamh, Stevie, Megan, Rebecca and Freya and their teachers who were an absolute credit to their school and to Gillingham Football Club.
We wish them the best of luck at the Regional Finals and we will update you on how they get on.