MATCH REPORT: Gillingham Women FA Cup

12th April 2021

Gillingham 2

Cheltenham: og 66′
Gillingham: Keogh 77′, Charles 112′

Report by Bruna Reis

Cheltenham Town Ladies bowed out of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup after pushing higher opposition Gillingham to extra-time at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium. 

The visitors started on the front foot, but Cheltenham were able to handle the pressure, centre-back Mai Butler denied the Gills striker from causing any damage in the first opening minutes.  

Moments later, the Ladies responded well in the other end as Charlotte Criddle’s corner kick caused their defence some panic, but they were able to deal with Sarah King’s shot which was blocked, and the threat was cleared away. 

Brilliant teamwork by the hosts in the 20th minute almost paid off when Criddle’s cross to the box saw Butler’s header saved by Cara Davies, before a consecutive header at the far post hit the post. 

Robinesses’ goalkeeper, Molly Ripley who came on moments before extra-time in the previous game against Portsmouth as Robyn Levett was forced off due to an ACL injury, made her full first team debut under Tom Davies. 

Ripley’s first touch on the ball came around the 30-minute mark when a free-kick followed, punched the ball but misjudged which left Georgia Griffin with an open goal but she was unable to guide it towards goal. 

The hosts came close to finding the breakthrough on the brink of half-time when a header hit the crossbar. 

Half Time: CTLFC 0-0 Gillingham Women

Davies’ side would eventually get rewarded with a goal in the 66th minute when Billie Haynes’ cross ended in the back of the net by a Gills player. 

The excitement of being ahead was shortly crushed by Bailey Keogh’s long-range effort beyond Ripley who was just off her line. 

Stepping up from the Development Team, Sophie Griffiths came on in the brink of second half as the game poised for a second extra-time for the hosts in the space of a week. 

Full Time: CTLFC 1-1 Gillingham Women

The Ladies tirelessly continued the hunt to snatch another goal that would put themselves in front, a looping shot from a tight angle causing the goalkeeper all sorts of panic before skimming the bar and landing on the roof of the net.

Unfortunately for Cheltenham it was the visitors who took their chance from the edge of the box as Otesha Charles fired the ball past the keeper. 

Their FA Cup run came to an end as the visitors ran out winners and will now face Women’s Super League opposition, Arsenal at Meadow Park next Sunday. 

Full Time after Extra Time: CTLFC 1-2 Gillingham Women

Cheltenham: M. Ripley, S. Hallsworth, M. Butler (c), R. Halford, L. Ellis (Griffiths 89), B. Haynes, R. Scahill (Rendall 112), C. Criddle, A. Bevan, S. King (Hood 112), J. Grove (Kayll 78).
Subs not used: H. Rogers, H. Lambe, C. Jones, T. Hayward, C. Dolloway

Player of The Match: Rebecca Halford (pictured)

Match Sponsor: Cheltenham Radio
Matchball Sponsor: Burlow Engineering Ltd


Robinesses manager, Davies expressed the team’s distraught feeling following the elimination from the Cup as the club reached the third-round for only the second time in their history. 

“It’s a tough one to take. It’s kind of like being punched in the stomach, Late goals in extra time are always going to be that way. 

“After last week’s disappointment, again the players have gone into extra time and worked really, really hard. 

“It’s about the performances and how we feel afterwards, and we put in a really strong performance against a strong side in the tier above, so we’ve got to take the positives from that.” 

The Ladies can only hold their heads high following two exceptional displays against higher opposition.  

“It’s the unity and the family feel that we’ve got, it’s tough to take but it’s about us setting ourselves down, absorbing it and building in the off-season ready for pre-season. 

“We’re really proud that it’s where we’re at. 

“It’s really important we have these experiences, it’s important that we come through them together and we have done,” added Davies. 

The focus now turns to pre-season as preparations for the new 2021/2022 campaign will get underway on Tuesday evening with friendlies to follow in the next coming weeks. 

“We’ll go back in training and look at ways we can improve ourselves, tactical and technical things and also look at ways we can keep bringing the group together, that’s really important.”  

For the digital match programme for this game, click here.

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