Gillingham Ladies begin new campaign in style
Gillingham Ladies kick off their first game of their South East Division One season with a convincing win over Bedford Ladies.
Going into the match, Gillingham Ladies management team Jack Wheeler and Darren Hare had an extra week to prepare after their game against Ipswich Town Lades was postponed.
Jade Keogh made a return to the line-up for her first game for a year after recovering from injury. First team debuts were also handed to eight players including; Vanisha Patel, Shannon Redhouse, Kallie Balfour, Fiona Constable and Kate Hardacker.
Gills hit the ground running when Emma Tune played a long pass to Balfour who hit the ball towards goal but she could not get any power behind her shot and the ball was gathered by Becki Scott.
Gills broke the deadlock on eight minutes, Tune got hold of the ball on the left side of the penalty box and hit a delightful chip which had Scott scrambling for thin air and the ball whistled into the top corner of the net.
Gills doubled their lead six minutes later as a ground pass was played to Redhouse. Redhouse beat the offside trap and ran the ball towards goal before hitting a low pass to Balfour who was unmarked in the middle of the penalty box and drilled the ball home from six yards out.
Gills added a third goal halfway through the first half as Constable held off three Bedford defenders and passed the ball to Balfour who drilled a low shot from outside the penalty box.
Bedford had their first chance of the game as Becca Vass broke through on the right, she cut inside Charlotte Thurston and Rachel Ahern before hitting a shot at goal but Imogen Alabaster got well behind her shot and easily grabbed the ball.
The second half started with Gills on the front foot looking for a fourth goal. They nearly scored again as Balfour broke through on goal but ran too far with the ball so laid it off to Lauren Williams who hit shot from inside the penalty area straight at Scott.
Balfour completed her hat trick for the Gills as the ball was crossed into her, she shielded the ball away from a defender before placing a low shot which cannoned off the post and into the back of the net.
Redhouse added a fifth goal for Gills as the ball fell kindly for her on the edge of the box, she hit a low shot which sped Scott and went to the bottom left corner of the net.
Gills pushed further forward and added a sixth goal. Williams got into the penalty box and hit a delightful cross to Chelsea Wallace who unleashed a delightful shot from outside the penalty box and the ball curled into the top corner of the net.
Gills added a seventh goal with just over five minutes left to go. Birthday girl Madison North got the ball on the right edge of the penalty area. North decided to drill a high shot towards Scott but it was too powerful for her and the ball went into the top left corner.
Gills quickly an eighth goal as Redhouse scored her second goal of the game. She got the ball as Bedford failed to clear their lines and hit a powerful shot which Scott had no chance of saving.
Balfour added her fourth goal of the match for the Gills as Redhouse broke down the right side of the pitch and hit a delightful cross to an unmarked Balfour who slotted the ball into the back of the net.
WATCH MATCH HIGHLIGHTS HERE.
Final Score: Gillingham Ladies 9 Bedford Ladies 0
Gillingham Ladies: Imogen Alabaster, Lauren Williams (c), Vanisha Patel, Charlotte Thurston, Rachel Ahern, Emma Tune, Katie Hardacker (Chelsea Wallace), Jade Keogh (Madison North), Kallie Balfour, Shannon Redhouse, Fiona Constable (Megan Malsak)
Subs not used: Georgia Reece, Hannah Gauci,
Goals: Tune (8), Balfour (14, 23, 57, 88), Redhouse (65, 87) Wallace (68) North (86)
Bedford Ladies: Becki Scott, Lottie Burton, Suzi Darby, Sophie Muluihill, Sophie Britton, Holly Venn (Helena Gill), Nicola Henman, Becca Vass (c), Jorgie Hall (Toni Mitchell), Kaiya Glynn, Chelsea Hunter,
Subs not used: Nina Reglolo
Referee: Chris Clarke,
Linespeople: Ben Lonlon and Laurel Collins