Sunday 04th September 2005

Merritt screamer helps Fleet open campaign with comfortable win

After working very hard during pre-season, Gravesend & Northfleet's Ladies team finally got their season underway yesterday in the newly formed London and South East Regional League, writes Stephen McCartney.

Their first match of the season took them to Hendon Ladies, a team that were promoted from the London Premier League last season, and were unknown to the Kent side, who were similarly promoted but from the South East Counties Premier League.

On a scorching hot summers day, Fleet got their season off to a great winning start, although the score line was a close 1-0, which did not reflect the gap between the two sides with Fleet being by far the stronger team in all departments, but slightly under performing on the day.

The first half, however, was a scrappy start for the team, maybe first game nerves creeping in or the fact that the opposition were playing a kick and rush type of game that the Fleet found difficult to take early control of the game.

Their normal flowing passing game that the team enjoy was absent, although Fleet still managed to create some scoring chances, putting the home side under pressure and keeping them deep in their own half.

Fleet ladies, however, limited Hendon to a couple of half chances in the first half easily dealt with by defence and goalkeeper.

A disappointing 0-0 score line at the break gave the Kent side a chance to regroup and for manager Valter Antunes to discuss where the team needed to improve and raise their standards to get control and win the game.

The second half saw Fleet ladies react positively to the managers comments and the first twenty minutes they dominated the game, playing much improved football, passing the ball superbly and much more comfortably around the team, creating many more chances to open the scoring.

It was the new midfield signing Becky Merritt that finally broke the deadlock with a superb cross-field shot from the right that flew over the keeper, dipping into the far corner of the net.

Fleet ladies continued to progress through the half as the stronger team and comfortably took the 1-0 win on the day, although knowing they can play much better were more than pleased with an opening day win and clean sheet.

Next Sunday the Fleet have a break in the league already and begin their FA Cup campaign.

The draws for the early rounds of the FA Women's Cup have already been made, with 224 clubs taking part, which is an increase of 14 from the 210 that entered last season.

The Fleet travel to MK Wanderers in the first qualifying round next Sunday, kicking off at 2pm.

London and South East Regional League

Results: Sunday 4th September
Hastings United 6-2 Clapton Orient
Hendon 0-1 Gravesend & Northfleet
Lewes 4-3 Carshalton Athletic
London Women 4-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Whitehawk 4-1 Long Lane


For further details on the team please use any of the following contact methods. Club website: www.intheteam.com/gravesendladiesfc -

Club contact Tina Martin: 07732 148011 -

Club Email: spryamanda@aol.com.