Midweek football from the Ram Meadow Stadium in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk to watch a match in the 1st round of this season's Ryman Women's Cup, Bury Town Ladies v Gillingham FC Ladies.
Was this time last year when I came to see Bury Town Ladies play for the 1st time at the Ram Meadow Stadium, overlooked by the sugar beet factory as they took on Tottenham Hotspur Ladies in the 1st round of last season's Ryman Women's Cup. Lost the game 7-0 but that said it was a great experience for the team to play a side in the FA Women's Premier Division, 3 leagues above them.
The gap is 2 leagues this time around but no less a stiff test for Bury Town Ladies as they were drawn against Gillingham FC Ladies in the 1st round of the competition. Bury Town Ladies competing in the ERWFL Division One East have seen a few comings and goings since that game have brought in Zoe Klimcke formerly of Haverhill Rovers and Laura Brame who was at Brandon Town Ladies along with Mia Bambury and Mikaela Tolbert. Had captain Emma Boreham unavailable for selection tonight due to a call up to the Suffolk County side and Lisa Pratt was out with injury.
Gillingham FC Ladies were relegated from the FAWPL Southern Division last season and now competing in the FAWPL South East Division One are looking to bounce straight back up and to that end have started the season well. Has been a while since I was down at Chatham Town FC to see them play nearly 2 seasons and they have seen a mini transitional period with a few players following former manager James Marr to Brighton & Hove Albion WFC. Jack Wheeler is now in charge of the 1st team at Gillingham FC Ladies and brought a strong looking squad up to Suffolk for tonight's match.
Eventually that is as with half an hour to go there was no sign of Gillingham FC Ladies at the ground, a midweek trip up from Kent into Suffolk isn't the easiest of journeys and news that they had broken down on the way up filtered through, were on their way however kick off put back to 8:05 as they made it into the changing rooms at 7:30. Not a lot of time to warm up and prepare, but they were ready to go, a clear evening, dry after a wet day in the region.
Bury Town Ladies starting XI - Charlotte Osborne, Helen Cryer, Stephanie Hanratty, Zoe Klimcke, Mia Bambury, Norma Locker, Gemma Carter, Elle Whitehurst, Mikaela Talbot, Laura Brame & Catherine Upton.
subs - Kerry Knott Emma Baldry Shelby Beveridge, Laura Bloomfield & Shelley Cocksedge.
Gillingham FC Ladies starting XI - Imogen Alabaster, Lauren Williams (C), Georgia Reece, Emma Tune, Rachel Ahern, Jade Keogh, Madison North, Ashleigh Loosemore, Lydia Wills, Shannon Redhouse & Paige Baker-Carroll.
subs - Hollie Musmeci & Fiona Constable.
It's Gillingham wearing an all red strip to kick off the match under the lights with Bury lined up opposite all in blue in a 3-5-2 formation. A positive start from Bury have the ball in the Gillingham half as captain Norma Locker looks to make a run with the ball attempts to play the through ball for Cat Upton in attack, Gillingham centre back Ashleigh Loosemore making the interception. Gillingham captain Lauren Williams is down after a challenge in need of treatment giving. Bury try to take advantage of having the extra player on the pitch for the moment good pressing from Laura Brame sees Gillingham give the ball away comes to Locker who pushes forwards towards the area before laying it off to her right 20 yards out Mia Bambury receives the ball takes on the shot a speculative effort is at a comfortable height for Gillingham goalkeeper Imogen Alabaster to save.
Bury's Michaela Tolbert attempts to take the ball forwards from the centre into the area, Loosemore puts in a great sliding tackle to win the ball, then bringing it out of defence plays the ball long up the right with Shannon Redhouse the player sprinting to get after it, Charlotte Osborne makes the decision to race out of her area and come clear the ball for a throw. Gillingham with everyone back on the pitch are starting to build momentum in attack, Paige Baker-Carroll making only her 2nd start for Gillingham has the ball out on the left driving forwards shoots early the low effort flashing across the face of goal and out of play.
GOAL! Gillingham open the scoring as they catch the Bury defence with Redhouse ready to race into the space available on the right of pitch the ball is put through to her, has Lydia Wills central with Baker-Carroll to her left bursting forwards to get into the Bury box, Redhouse's cross is swept across the face of the area, is behind Wills, comes through to Baker-Carroll who shoots sending the ball across the keeper as Osborne throws herself to her right can't reach it as the ball sails into the back of the net 0-1. 12 minutes played.
Baker-Carroll is on the ball looking to take on the Bury defence and burst into the area to create a shooting chance, Zoe Klimcke recovers gets back to put in the tackle to deny the chance concedes a corner kick. Another last ditch tackle is needed from Helen Cryer for Bury as Wills is given the ball and tries to push her way through the middle into the Bury box as the visitors start to get some meaningful possession on the ball. Redhouse catches the Bury back line out again on the right with both Wills and Baker-Carroll on the move again, Cryer has to come across deal with Redhouse this leaves Baker-Carroll unmarked the ball come into her the shot hit 1st time is high over the bar.
Osborne makes a fantastic save on her line pure instinct following a Gillingham corner taken on the left played short the cross is put in from deep towards the near post, Baker-Carroll is a yard out meets it Osborne in between her and the goal gets something on the ball to turn it away. The ball isn't cleared far before being played back into the area, Cryer slides in to win the tackle as Wills looks to make room for a shot. A tactical switch from Bury sees Upton put back to deal with the danger presented by Redhouse on the right with Tolbert pushing forwards to help Brame in attack.
Bury are keeping a good shape trying to bring the ball forwards as a unit, the Gillingham attack is ready to spring into action whenever their defence wins the ball out looking to break quickly in number. Redhouse is central this time as the ball is rolled through to her plays the pass out to the left long for Baker-Carroll she goes after it though has Emma Tune coming towards her offering support is given the ball outside the area looks to come inside before drilling a shot wide past the far post form 20 yards out.
Following a tackle, Bury's Tolbert has to come off having taken a knock, Kerry Knott comes onto the pitch for the home side. The free-kick won by Tolbert is on the left 20 yards out from goal, Gemma Carter is over the ball get's it up and over the wall coming across her goal Alabaster can see it bounce safely past the post. Gillingham concede a 2nd free kick this one halfway inside their half, the ball is played long up into the box, Locker has make a good run getting around and behind the Gillingham defence inside the area, it's Loosemore who rises to get her head on the ball 1st to clear.
Osborne is called into action again to make another great save as Tune is played in through the middle the cross put into her by Redhouse on the right, Tune is able to strike it on the run a rising effort with plenty behind it Osborne dives to her right palms the ball over the bar. Makes another fine save following the corner initially cleared the shot comes back in from Tune again Osborne keeps it out.
GOAL! Bury had done well to keep the scoreline down to 1 goal as the match approaches the 40th minute mark, Gillingham have looked a threat though with every counter attack and it when Bury look to go forwards they are vulnerable. Again it's Loosemore who wins the ball back inside her own box looks to bring it out play the pass into Redhouse inside her own half she turns with the ball and is clear racing towards the opposition box coming inside as she reaches the box no one can catch her as she prods her shot low past the keeper and doubles Gillingham's lead 0-2.
GOAL! Gillingham add a 3rd goal moments later is almost a carbon copy of the 1st goal as they win the ball back from Bury, this time though it's Jade Keogh on the right who plays the cross along the face of the box is behind Wills again coming through to Baker-Carroll she smashes the shot back across the keeper and in 0-3.
GOAL! A 3-0 lead is soon 4 for Gillingham, players are up for Bury inside their opponents box following a free kick won wide on the left the ball is played long to the far post Gillingham head it clear, Baker-Carroll gets hold of the ball on the left drives forwards is looking to get into the Bury box the challenge comes in but Baker-Carroll gets her shot away going low for bottom corner Osborne gets down to her left the ball squeezes past her is over the line giving Baker-Carroll a 1st half hat-trick..
GOAL! Baker-Carroll isn't done scoring yet as the 1st half is deep into injury time, Bury rattled form conceding 3 quick fire goals are undone as Redhouse springs the offside trap and drives into space on the right closing in on the box goes to shoot the ball hit across the box looks to be travelled out wide past the far post however, Baker-Carroll has covered a huge amount of ground to get into the area and gets a boot to it smash it over the diving Osborne into the back of the net.
Half-time Bury Town Ladies 0-5 Gillingham FC Ladies.
Bury would have been thrilled had they gone into the break being just a single goal down and although needing some fine saves from Osborne in goal looked to be doing just that until the 40th minute mark then a purple patch from Gillingham saw them grab 4 more goals to give them a commanding 5-0 lead at half-time. Arriving late to the ground had taken a little time to find their rhythm.
A 2nd change for Bury at half-time and concerns for Gemma Carter who remained in the dressing room as they bring on Emma Baldry. It's Bury to kick off the 2nd period, Baldry is up top in attack with Brame moving out to the right. Isn't long before the visitors are on the attack the ball with Keogh coming from a central position, takes the ball out into the left channel before turning back inside entering the area looks to shoot, Bambury slides in front of her manages to get something on the ball to take the sting out of the shot, allowing Osborne to gather beyond.
Baker-Carroll looks to make the run inside get onto the end of a ball put long through the middle is through on goal hits the shot, produces another fantastic save from Osborne in the Bury goal.
GOAL! Bury are caught out to concede a 6th goal early into the 2nd half. Madison North has gotten forwards for Gillingham on the left goes after a ball put into the corner isn't closed down allowed to turn plays the cross into the box coming into Baker-Carroll who turns off her marker and send the shot under the keeper to bag her 5th 0-6.
Bury are struggling to get the ball out of their half with everyone back to defend Gillingham are using the full width of the pitch to stretch the play with both full backs North left and Georgia Reece on the right able to get forwards down the flanks, Reece putting in a cross close to the near post that Osborne needs to claim with Wills looking to run onto it. 15 minutes in and Gillingham make a change with Reece the playing given a rest and Fiona Constable coming on. Wills is the player who finds herself furthest forwards for Gillingham in their next attack running onto a pass played over the top central inside the box six yards out looks to knock it past the keeper, Osborne stays up makes the save to deny the goal.
GOAL! The 7th goal for Gillingham isn't long in coming, possession is on the right before the play switches to the middle Wills and Baker-Carroll combine playing a one two with Baker-Carroll stealing in to hit the shot into the back of the net to make it a double hat-trick. 0-7.
Second change for Gillingham with Hollie Musmeci coming on for Rachel Ahern at the back. Thing's are a little ragged for Bury out on the pitch aren't keeping their concentration their are concerns for injured player Carter still in the dressing room and whether this is a distraction I don't know. Gillingham are allowed to keep running at their defence, Wills this time central jinks left then right entering the box gets a shot away as players converge on her, lacks the power to trouble Osborne in goal. Hanratty has to come off for Bury the defender having hurt her knee, Shelby Beveridge comes onto the pitch which sees a re organisation of personnel.
GOAL! Gillingham have an 8th goal, possession is on the right once more with numbers forwards pressing Bury back Redhouse plays the ball into the area with Baker-Carroll coming across to meet it inside the box and turn it home to make it 0-8.
More injury woe for Bury as goalkeeper Osborne after a challenge inside the box needing treatment can't continue comes off with Klimcke looking like she will take over in goal. Is called into action soon after thankfully a comfortable take as Redhouse sweeps the cross up into the middle with Wills looking to hit it on the volley from 20 yard out, on target but drops kindly for Klimcke. Redhouse with another drive down the right pulls the trigger sends her shot wide across the goal face.
GOAL! Late into the game and Gillingham score another goal, Baker-Carroll no where near it this time. A great solo effort from Tune instead as she chases the ball into the left corner before taking on a wary Bury defence turning back inside and from an acute angle taking on the shot lifting the ball up and over the keeper to find the far corner of the net beyond 0-9.
GOAL! Closing moments and Bury concede a 10th goal, Wills finally getting her name on the scoresheet as Bury try to bring the ball out from the back the ball is won back by Williams the pass cutting open the Bury defence with Wills the player racing clear to shoot and send the ball wide of the keeper 0-10.
That's how it ends and Gillingham Ladies progress to the next round of the Ryman Women's Cup after a strong attacking performance to continue their rich vain of form. Could have scored more goals as they had the Bury goal under siege for most of the 2nd half.
Bury will be dejected conceding 10 goals, manager Jake Francis wasn't too dejected after the match this was always going to be a tough ask taking on higher league place opposition an opportunity for his players to test themselves with no pressure enjoy the experience were themselves 11-0 winners at the weekend over lower league opponents so now how it feels form both sides a few injuries tonight but in the end nothing to cause too much concern.
Will no doubt see both sides in action again this season so for now thanks to both for the help with the teams tonight and Bury for the bacon sandwich.