Albion Women were dealt a cruel blow on Sunday...
Danielle Carlton’s free-kick in the fifth minute of stoppage time cruelly condemned Albion Women to defeat at Gillingham and ends a run of five consecutive victories in all competitions.
It was a real sucker punch for Jay Lovett’s side, who did not deserve to lose but failed to create any clear-cut opportunities to secure the three points.
The match was a rather lacklustre affair, with Albion unable to play their brand of slick, attacking football and allowed the Gills too much time and space on the ball, particularly in the first half.
Chances were few and far between, as an early opportunity for Kim Stenning and Lily Agg’s deflected shot were the only openings in a rather non-eventful first 45 minutes.
The Seagulls started the second half with more intensity and had more possession inside Gillingham’s half, but were limited to long-range efforts, as Stenning saw her shot tipped over the bar by keeper, Ruth Jackson.
Catherine O’Hagan linked up well with Stenning and Charley Boswell upfront, but it was an afternoon where passes were misplaced and the home side continued to deal with the pressure.
In fact, the Gills had the best chance of the match, when Kallie Balfour’s cross into the area caused Lucy Mangan to rush out of goal only for Jay Blackie to somehow head wide of an open target. Mangan then made a fine save to deny Charlotte Gurr moments later.
Play was halted for a few moments as Jodie Jacobs went down injured after a clash inside the area, forcing Lovett to replace the centre-back with Darcey James in the 70th minute.
Albion then had a chance to break the deadlock through a set-piece, when Tammy Waine’s free-kick was saved by Jackson with ten minutes remaining.
Lovett then replaced Waine with 16-year-old Paige Adams in a final throw of the dice by the manager, but the game took a cruel and decisive turn.
James was penalised late on in the game by the linesman for a mistimed interception on the edge of the area; Carlton stepped up to take the resulting free-kick and fired the ball past Mangan into the bottom left-hand corner.
There was barely enough time for the restart, as Albion suffered a second league defeat of the season and missed an ideal opportunity to close the seven-point gap on Reading and Millwall, with neither side in league action on Sunday.
Manager, Lovett was understandably disappointed with the result, but remained optimistic given the side’s recent run of good form.
He told Seagulls.co.uk, “We’ve had a lot of highs with recent results, but today’s game was a bit of a downer. I give Gillingham a lot of credit as we always have tough games against them.
“We still worked hard; it was just one of those off-days where the things we tried didn’t come off. Every time we had a shot on goal, it was blocked. They stopped everything we threw at them and did it very well, but the sign of a good side is how well we recover in the next game.”
Albion: (4-4-2) Mangan (GK); Cheshire, Ryan, Jacobs (James 70), Carter; Barton, Waine (Adams 87), Agg; O’Hagan, Stenning, Boswell.