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Match Reports

Report: Ladies 1-2 Gillingham

11 April 2017

MK Dons Ladies fell to only their second home defeat of the season after they lost 2-1 to league-leaders Gillingham.

Felicity Gibbons scored the first goal of the game to set the Gills on their way to victory, when she raced onto an inch-perfect through ball from Charlotte Gurr and slotted it in to the bottom right corner.

The Gills then doubled their lead early on in the second half after having a goal disallowed – Vanisha Patel tapped home the ball from a corner-kick after there was a scramble in the box.

After working hard all game and creating several opportunities, the Dons then got themselves on the scoresheet in the final moments of the game.

Heather McDonnell, who had come on as a substitute, struck a free-kick from just outside the box, and her effort was deflected in, to make the score 2-1.

The Gills remain top of the league after inflicting the Dons’ second home defeat of the season, while James Honeyman’s side slip to third with two games in hand over second place AFC Wimbledon Ladies.

The Dons started the game brightly, challenging the league leaders several times in the opening period of the game.

Kerry Newman went close to smashing home a rebound from a free-kick, which Hannah Barrett had won just outside the area, but Newman was unable to keep her shot down and on target.

Newman then had another opportunity courtesy of Barrett, when she played a deep cross into the box, but Newman, stretching to reach it, was unable to head the ball towards goal.

With 15 minutes played, the Gills came into the game and nearly made the breakthrough thanks to Gibbons, who found herself one-on-one after a counter-attack. However, Gibbons on this occasion guided the ball wide of the right post.

Shortly after, Barrett found herself with a chance to put the Dons ahead, after being brought down outside the box once again. Barrett’s free-kick narrowly went wide of the top right corner.

The Dons had a chance to go into the break level, after Sasha Newsome had played the ball to Sammy Gillings who launched a long ball forward to Barrett. Barrett attempted to turn and shoot straight away, but her shot was too powerful and whizzed over the goal.

The Gills started the second half strong, attacking from kick-off and earning themselves a corner. The ball was bundled over the line, but was disallowed.

However, that didn’t stop the Gills moments latter grabbing a goal from a corner that stood. This time the corner was whipped towards Patel, who simply tapped it into the net.

After doubling the lead, the Dons attempted to mount a comeback with McDonnell being subbed on and having a couple of opportunities straight away, but Courtney Shanly in the goal for the Gills denied her.

Gibbons tried to extend the Gills lead to three goals, shooting from distance, but it resulted in a comfortable save for debutant Sophie Shults.

Gibbons went closer moments later when she found herself through on goal once more, but she struck the ball wide this time around.

In added time, the Dons grabbed a consolation goal as a reward for their efforts. McDonnell struck a free-kick from outside the box, which took a deflection on its way to goal, before slotting into the bottom right corner to make it 2-1.

Speaking after the game, captain Charley Clarke was positive in defeat, saying: “Obviously we’re disappointed because it was such a close scoreline at 2-1, but really we’ve got to take the positives.

“I can’t remember exactly how many goals they’ve scored this season, but for us to limit them to three chances is pretty impressive and shows how the tactics we have worked on in training this week have worked really well for us.”

Clarke believes the differences between the sides showed in the first half, stating: “I think we were probably better in the first half.

“We just need to be a bit more ruthless in front of goal and take those chances – that was the difference. They had one chance in the first half and the difference was they put it away, we didn’t.”

James Honeyman was equally as positive about his side as his captain, saying: “I’m very proud of the performance. When we played them earlier in the season, we were 3-0 down at half time and they were miles ahead of us, but today there was togetherness and we worked really hard.

“To be honest, we dominated spells of the game and we executed our gameplan perfectly, in front of goal, we may only have had three or four chances but we were working hard to make stuff happen.”

Starting XI: Shults, Holland, Doyle, Howes, Gillings, Clarke (c), Newsome, Newman (Goodier 77), Hazard, Loftus (McDonnell 66), Barrett (Naylor 83).

Goal: McDonnell (90)

Attendance: 55

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