Manager proud of his side's effort
AFC Wimbledon Ladies exited the SSE Women’s FA Cup after a heavy defeat at Gillingham on Sunday.
However, manager Chris Lyons was proud of his side’s commitment to the cause in the 7-0 loss against a side currently second in South East Division One.
For almost an hour, the Dons were well in the game at just 2-0 down, but Kirstie Bavington was sent off and Gills capitalised on their numerical advantage to rattle in late goals.
“We took a while to get to grips with Gillingham, but once we did, we almost levelled the game on more than one occasion,” said Chris Lyons. “We must not forget that last season Gillingham were playing two levels above us. To have given them a battle for 60 minutes is huge credit to our players. Our response after half time was very good, and on another day we could have been leading on the hour mark. Who knows what might have been if the red card had not happened? It completely turned the game.
“We have lessons to learn from it, but the work ethic we put in once we were down to 10 players was superb. Gillingham are a good passing team and used the big pitch well, but right up until the final whistle we never gave up and we battled for everything. That shows the determination and character that is a huge quality in our players. There are a lot of positives we can take from this game, and we should feel proud of how we responded to every setback.”
Conceding inside five minutes certainly didn’t help Wimbledon’s cause with Kallie Balfour striking the opener after the Dons had failed to clear a corner. However, Wimbledon responded well and within four minutes they were awarded a free kick just outside the Gills penalty area. Midfielder Libby Suchley’s accuracy from set plays is often very good and it needed a fine save from Gills goalkeeper Courtney Shanley to deny her an equaliser from a free-kick.
During the remaining 30 minutes of the first-half, Wimbledon had a fair share of defending to do, but Zoe Clifford came close to levelling with a shot just wide.
At just 1-0 down at half-time, Wimbledon came out in determined mood to grab an equaliser and twice they almost did that at the start of the second half. First, Bavington came close after a corner and then captain Jess Trinmell had an effort cleared off the line.
minute when Balfour headed home a corner from Fiona Constable. Then came the turning point four minutes later when Bavington was red-carded for retaliation after an incident involving Charlie Thurston. rdHowever, Gillingham doubled their advantage in the 53
This effectively ended any hopes of a Wimbledon comeback and five more goals followed, including Balfour sealing her hat-trick and an own goal. April Bowers, Shannon Redhouse and Lauren Williams were also on target.
It’s back to league action this Sunday with top-of-the-table Wimbledon defending their unbeaten record at home to Herne Bay.
AFC Wimbledon: Tylee, Carnell (Bavington 37), Houghton-North, Clarke, Hoesli-Atkins, Sargent, Suchley, Trimnell, Whelan, Keady (Wylie 72), Clifford (Colliver 68).