Kent Women’s Cup holders Gillingham emerged unscathed from their first match in defence of their title, beating Parkwood Rangers 8-0 at Bexley Park.
After presiding over a run of seven successive league and cup defeats, manager Simon Ratcliffe selected a strong squad for the trip to the South East Counties Premier League side, who were playing in their first county cup quarter-final.
It was a much-changed line-up from the one which won the cup, against Charlton Athletic Reserves, in April, most of the side having since moved with manager James Marrs to Brighton.
But it proved far too strong for Parkwood, currently in mid-table, three tiers below their Premier League opponents.
Natalie Crinean and Ashlee Hincks each struck 50-minute hat-tricks and Emma Tune and Lauren Williams – a scorer in that April final – also got a goal each as the Gills scored four in each half.
But the final total could have been far higher if it had not been for Kelly Amer in the Parkwood goal, who made several impressive saves to keep the score down.
Ratcliffe praised his players after the game, telling his club’s website: “The girls did me proud. I’m pleased with everyone.”
Youngster Chloe Cavenagh, a second-half substitute, also drew praise from Ratcliffe, who said he was able to select her after she missed the reserves’ county cup tie earlier in the competition. “She came on, showed some good touches and did well,” he said.
Parkwood, who have undergone their own mini-transition of personnel this season, also fielded a number of youngsters.
Sixteen-year-olds Courtney Durham and Skye McNally, Emily Chapman (17) and 18-year-old Ellen Oaten all featured against the Premier League side in a performance that impressed Ratcliffe, despite the scoreline.
He told the Gills’ website: “They tried hard, and we ultimately overcame them with some effort and good goals.”
Parkwood’s first-team coach Andrew Morton told Sent Her Forward: “They all gave a good account of themselves today and, as with the rest of the team, all gave 100% effort and tried their best.”
He described 19-year-old Amer’s performance in goal as outstanding, saying: “She kept the score down to single figures.”
And Morton also paid tribute to their illustrious opponents. “The gulf in quality and fitness showed, and the better team won,” he said.
Gillingham will meet rising stars Herne Bay in the semi-final, the east Kent side squeezing past SECWL Premier Division rivals Dartford Royals 4-3 on penalties after the tie finished goalless after extra-time.
Goalkeeper Sarah Cooper was the Herne Bay hero, saving one of Dartford’s spot-kicks and then scoring the decisive one against Dartford keeper Jody Lazell, who herself had made some crucial saves during open play.
Herne Bay manager Anthony Deer said he hated penalty shootouts and admitted the result was harsh on Dartford. “But it’s a lottery,” he told the club’s website.
Having overcome a tricky second-round obstacle, Herne Bay, who won the Kent Women’s Plate – the junior version of the county cup in each of their first two years of existence, have a perfect opportunity to measure their progress against Gillingham in the semis.
The other semi-final will see the winners of the postponed tie between Aylesford and Charlton Reserves at home to London Corinthians, who beat London & South East Regional League rivals Maidstone United 5-1.
Corinthians’ goals came from Adele Keech, Isabelle Michalaiski, Chanel Richards, Hannah Titchener and substitute Katherine Long.
Kent Women’s Plate
Only five of the second-round ties were completed, with two games postponed and the match between Thanet Colts and Prince of Wales listed as abandoned.
There were wins for Faversham Elizabethans, Ashford, Anchorians 3rds, Bromley, Castle Colts and Teynham Gunners, who were handed a walkover against Orpington.
Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup
Sussex County Cup holders Chichester City are safely through to the semi-finals after beating Eastbourne Town, who are one tier below them, 3-1.
The scores were level at half-time after Beth Richardson cancelled out Kally Ambler‘s opener, but Ambler scored again after half-time and Jess Pike scored on her senior debut.
Chichester will be at home to the winners of the Rottingdean Village v Seahaven Harriers quarter-final, which was postponed.
Brighton, the team they beat in last season’s final, will also be at home – against Hassocks, who once again shook off their disappointing league form to win 6-1 against Adur Athletic.
Brighton were handed a walkover after Lewes pulled out of the competition.
Surrey County Cup
AFC Wimbledon will be at home to Crystal Palace in the semi-finals after beating Crawley Wasps 2-1.
Palace beat the Dons’ development side 7-1.
But even that score was dwarfed by holders Carshalton Athletic‘s, who thumped Guildford 20-0. There were four goals for Laura Curtis, three each for Ella Bale and Kayley Smith and two apiece for Paige Atkinson, Danielle Davies and Beth Roche.
The other goals came from Emily Curtis, Ellie Dorey, Georgie O’Halloran and Chanell Yardley.
FAW Premier League
Cardiff City missed the chance to go top of the table when they were held to a 3-3 draw by Charlton Athletic. Kelly Aldridge (2) and Cori Williams scored for the home side, while Charley Clifford (2) and Amy Howlett replied for the visitors.
Three points separate the top four sides.
In the Reserves League, there were wins for leaders West Ham United at Brighton, Crystal Palace at Chichester City and C&K Basildon at Gillingham.
Leaders Fulham Foundation extended their lead at the top of the London & South East Regional Women’s League with a 9-2 victory over KIKK United.
There was also a big win in the only game in the South East Counties Women’s League Premier Division – Long Lane winning 7-0 at Eastbourne.
In Division One West there was a second win of the season for Worthing Town, who beat Bexhill United Reserves 3-0.
Lancing are back among the front-runners in the Sussex County Women and Girls Football League after winning 5-0 against Jarvis Brook, thanks to two goals from Kayleigh Thaxter and one each from Sophie Bulbeck, Sophie Tibbs and Lucia Williamson.
Horsham Sparrows remain bottom of the Surrey Women and Girls Football League Under-18 Division after losing 6-2 at Wealdstone.