Ladies lose at Gillingham

West Ham United Ladies were defeated 3-2 at Gillingham in the FA Women's Premier League Southern Division
West Ham United Ladies suffered a 3-2 FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division defeat at Gillingham Ladies on Sunday.

Winger Lily Mellors had put the Hammers ahead with just four minutes on the clock, before Ashlee Hincks and Lauren Phillips turned the game on its head with goals of their own for the Gills.

West Ham dragged themselves level when April Bowers fired past Courtney Shanley from distance, before Ellie Manning popped up with the winner shortly thereafter to secure a surprise win for the home side.

Ladies boss Julian Dicks made just one change to the starting line-up that had defeated the same opponents 5-1 in Essex just ten days earlier. Vicky King came in to replace the injured Ruby Baxter, while new signing Kayleigh Xidhas was named on the bench.

It took the Hammers little more than three minutes when a deflection in the midfield saw the ball slip through the home defence into the path of Mellors, who composed herself and finished for her third goal in the two games against Gillingham.

West Ham goalkeeper Nikki Duncan then saved from Louise Lorton, but she was powerless to prevent Hincks from smashing the equalizer in via the underside of the crossbar moments later. Just before half-time, Gillingham went ahead when Phillips finished after the home side had twice hit the frame of the goal in the build-up.

After the break, the Hammers came out and played into a strong wind, but they overcame that problem to hit the crossbar themselves through Mellors’ shot.

With 68 minutes gone, Bowers did fashion an equaliser, picking up the ball 25 yards out and beating Shanley with a venomous shot.

Just when Dicks and his players might have had hopes of winning the game, however, they found themselves behind again when Hincks whipped in a right-wing cross and manning bundled past Duncan at the far post.

The unexpected defeat left the Ladies manager unhappy, as he explained: “It’s a disappointing result anyway but it is made even more hard-hitting by the fact that we beat this team 5-1 at home recently. The performance that the girls put in wasn’t good enough for us to deserve any sort of positive result.

“With me, it’s all about passing and tempo. Whether that’s in training or in matches, you need to be able to pass the ball and do it quickly to put the pressure on your opponent. In this game, I could’ve played with my knee the way it is and I wouldn’t have had to run. That’s how slow it was!

“In the past few weeks, we’ve played some teams that are below us in the league and haven’t got anything from those games. Now, the girls have got a tough run-in towards the end of the season which includes a London FA Capital Cup final and is nothing changes over the next few weeks, then they will continue to get nothing from the games.”

The Ladies will be hoping for a better result when they travel to Cardiff City Ladies on Sunday 5 April, with kick off at 2pm.

Ladies: Duncan, King (Xidhas), Revell, Little, Bottom, Bowers, Stimson, Mellors (Smith), Blanchflower, Kinsman, Sherwood