Ady Pennock’s first game in charge of the Gills ended in defeat on Saturday, with his team losing 1-0 away at Oldham.
Josh Law’s 39th-minute free-kick was the difference between the two sides on a day when the Gills couldn’t find an equaliser, despite some late pressure in the second half.
Max Ehmer was named captain for the trip to the north west, and there was a first league start for Elliott List on the wing.
Paul Konchesky and Bradley Dack
returned to the starting XI following suspensions, and Chris Herd came in to partner Ehmer at centre-back.
The Gills had the first real opportunity of the game on 11 minutes. Chris Herd, still up from a corner, controlled Ehmer’s flick-on header, but his shot was blocked by Latics’ skipper Peter Clarke to deny a certain goal.
Oldham went straight up the other end and had a chance of their own just a minute later. Lee Erwin ran to the by-line and tried cutting the ball back to Billy McKay, but Josh Wright recovered to block the cross and put the ball out for a corner-kick.
There was a worry for the Gills on 14 minutes, when Stuart Nelson
went down with a gash on his chin, needing treatment. Play was paused for eight minutes by referee Dean Whitestone, but the Gills’ number one was able to resume.
Whenever List received the ball he was creating problems for the home side, who were lunging in on the speedy winger to try to knock him off his stride.
Oldham took the lead on 39 minutes through Law. The midfielder stepped up to take a free-kick, following Konchesky’s foul on McKay, and his set-piece flew over the Gills defensive wall, beating Nelson in goal.
Pennock’s men nearly drew level just two minutes later through Ehmer. The captain met Ryan Jackson’s throw-in at the far-post, and, with his back to goal, tried his luck with a bicycle-kick that was well-saved by Connor Ripley in goal.
Gillingham had more possession and shots than their opposition in the opening half, but couldn’t beat Ripley in the Athletic goal.
The Latics had a great opportunity to double their advantage on 50 minutes. Erwin latched onto a misplaced pass from Josh Wright on the halfway line and wriggled his way through the defence before shooting wide from 15 yards.
The Gills were seeing plenty of the ball in the middle of the park, but struggled make the possession count in the final third. Pennock made his first change on the hour-mark, with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas being replaced by Cody McDonald
as he looked to fire things up in attack with a fresh pair of legs.
Nelson was largely involved in the action as the game entered the final third, first saving Erwin’s header, before denying Ryan Flynn, whose stinging free-kick was tipped over the bar.
The Gills broke on the counter-attack on 68 minutes after Wright’s interception. The midfielder played the ball to Scott Wagstaff, who went wide to Jackson. The right-back’s delivery was met by List at the far post, but the winger’s header looped wide following pressure from Brian Wilson.
Rory Donnelly and Emmanuel Osadebe were brought on in place of List and Herd, as the Gills looked to get back into the game.
Dack had two chances in as many minutes as the game entered the final quarter. The first, a free-kick, fizzed past the post, before the playmaker met Wagstaff’s cross with a great header but Ripley was able to smother.
Dack went down in the area under a Ryan McLaughlin challenge on 84 minutes, but the referee waved play on, to the dismay of the travelling supporters behind the goal.
The Latics had 11 men behind the ball as the final whistle loomed, but looked dangerous on the counter-attack. Clarke had a fantastic chance to make it 2-0 on 86 minutes, but he blazed his effort over the bar after being unmarked at the far post.
Jackson burst down the wing on 90 minutes, before managing to get a cross in that was blocked by Clarke. The ball fell to Billy Knott on the edge of the D, but his half-volley was caught by Ripley.
John Sheridan’s team had the last effort of the game deep into stoppage time, with Law’s powerful shot cannoning off the bar.
Oldham Athletic: Ripley, Law, Wilson, Flynn, McKay (Green, 80), Edmunson, Dummigan, Erwin (Osei, 60, Glackin, 88), Fane, Clarke, McLaughlin
Unused subs: Kettings, Reckford, King, Banks
Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Herd (Osadebe, 71), Ehmer, Wagstaff, Knott, Konchesky, Dack, Wright, Emmanuel-Thomas (McDonald, 60), List (Donnelly, 68)
Unused subs: Hadler, Oldaker, Dickenson, Byrne
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 3,475 (away not given)