Kallie Balfour was the cup hero for Gillingham Ladies, scoring two goals to see the Gills defeat the Dons 2-0 to reach the third round of the FA Women’s Premier League Cup.
The Dons had efforts through Charley Clarke, Charly Wright and Leah Cudone to pull a goal back before the end, but the Gills held on to their clean sheet and victory.
The Gills started the game brightly, forcing Kirby to make several saves to keep the score level in the first 10 minutes of the game.
They continued to apply the pressure in search of the first goal of the game with several corners, which the Dons’ defence calmly dealt with.
Having kept the Gills at bay, the Dons grew into the game and started to forge clear-cut chances of their own.
Hannah Barrett forced Katie Startup to pull off an acrobatic save for the Gills, when she attempted to powerfully head the ball home after Leanna Doyle had played an inch-perfect ball into the box from a free-kick given near the halfway line.
Rebecca Vass had an opportunity moments later to put the Dons 1-0 up, but once again Startup pulled off an impressive save to deny her.
Cudone kept the pressure on when she went close, as the ball fell to her outside the box, but her strike from just outside the box, agonisingly, went wide of the left post.
The Dons ended the first half on top with Cudone and Wright running at the Gills defence , forcing them to act quickly on the ball.
The Gills started the second half quickly, and within five minutes Balfour had found herself in space, which allowed her to strike the ball into the left side of the goal from inside the box to make it 1-0.
Balfour once again hit a powerful strike that left Kirby with no chance 10 minutes later to make it 2-0, after slow build-up play by the Gills.
Cudone tried to instantly grab a goal back, pouncing on a long pass forward, but Startup closed her down before she could fire a shot at goal.
Wright found herself with a chance to score when the ball fell to her in the box shortly after, but she was only able to fire the ball over the bar as she was off balance.
Kirby continued to make important saves to keep the score just at 2-0, and she successfully launched a counterattack which nearly paid off.
After Kirby played the ball forward, the Dons earned themselves a corner, which Clarke nearly headed home, but the ball rattled the crossbar instead.
Speaking after the game, manager James Honeyman was pleased with his side’s performance despite the result, saying: “I thought we performed excellently, we had three clear-cut chances when it was 0-0 and then we went 2-0 down, conceding due to two errors.
“We executed our game plan perfectly, which was to sit deep and catch them on the counterattack, which we did but we unfortunately didn’t take the chances, if we had it could have been 3-0 to us at halftime.”
Starting XI: Kirby, Gillings, Doyle, Holland, Howes, Clarke (c) , Barrett (Naylor 43), Wright, McDonnell (Loftus 45), Cudone, Vass