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17:10 2nd October 2010

Bentley celebrates scoring against Accrington


For the second time this season, the Gills scored four times up in the North-West but still managed to lose.

Just a few weeks ago they of course lost 5-4 up at Bury and like then, poor defending cost them dearly here.

The result not only saw the Gills drop to 18th but the defeat unfortunately meant that they had equalled the club's record of 28 league games away from home without a win!

In an amazing game at the Crown Ground, apart from the goals, there were numerous other chances for both sides, some great saves, poor defending, dodgy decisions, a mass brawl and unfortunately a red card for man of the match Mark Bentley. After the game Gills manager Andy Hessenthaler was far from happy, not with just his own team but also the performance of referee Iain Williamson.

It certainly seems strange that a team can register three clean sheets out of their four previous games, the one goal conceded coming in stoppage time - then this happens.

Going into the game Gills boss Hessenthaler made one change from the team that drew with Southend on Tuesday night recalling Mark Bentley at the expense of winger Bruce Inkango.

The Gills did well early on as they controlled the play and denied John Coleman's side a fast tempo start.

The firs threat on goal saw the Gills go close in just the third minute when Danny Spiller fired a free-kick inches over the top. From the resultant goal-kick Adebayo Akinfenwa was unable to take advantage when gifted the ball by some sloppy defending.

In the ninth minute a big clearance from Lance Cronin put home defender Sean Hessey under pressure , with keeper Ian Dunbavin coming out and Akinfenwa closing in, Hessey's back-header forced a reasonable save from his own keeper.

The Gills had looked fairly comfortable apart from a couple of long-range efforts that were easily blocked by defenders and nothing could have prepared us for the goal fest that followed.

The home side took the lead in the 16th minute. Josh Gowling allowed the impressive Terry Gornell to get the wrong side of him down the left before the forward cut inside and set up Sean McConville perfectly for the midfielder to take a touch before sliding the ball home from around eight yards.

Almost immediately at the other end Cody McDonald went close to equalising but his low shot went across face of goal.

There was then an almighty goalmouth scramble right in front of the traveling Gills supporters after 22 minutes. Akinfenwa and Spiller seemed to have half chances blocked but the closest attempt came from Bentley who saw his header strike the bar.

The Gills did equalise in the 29th minute. Another long throw from Jack Payne from the right saw Bentley rise at the near post and his looping backward header evaded Dunbavin as it dropped in behind him.

Just two minutes later the Gills were ahead. Cronin smacked the ball forward, Bentley and Akinfenwa swapped headers and the ball fell invitingly for the experienced midfielder to thump a left-foot shot high past the Stanley keeper.

Parity lasted just three minutes though, the Gills midfield lost the ball and a couple of passes later Andy Parkinson was drilling a low shot across Cronin and just inside the far post. Typically the attacking midfielder hadn't scored a league goal for something like three years!!

For some reason all the chances were dropping to Bentley and he could easily have registered a first-half hat-trick. He saw another low shot well saved well down to his right by Dunbavin then headed a Spiller cross wide of the target.

Two minutes before the break Stanley amazingly turned this see-saw battle back in their favour as they went 3-2 ahead. Charlie Barnett skipped past Danny Spiller's attempted sliding tackle and broke into the area. Whether he actually meant it or not I may never know but his finish was sublime, curling the ball over Cronin into the far side of the net.

Jimmy Ryan, who had been outstanding along with Gornell for the home side, then went past a couple of half-hearted challenges before seeing his 25-yard strike tipped over by Cronin.

H/T: 3-2

The Gills had a great chance to level matters in the 49th minute when Akinfenwa sent McDonald clean through on goal. The Gills forward looked comfortable but saw the diving Dunbavin somehow manage to pull off a save with his outstretched right boot.

The scores were level in the 55th minute with a great goal. McDonald, not to be denied this time broke through from near half-way, dinked the ball past a defender and deftly clipped the ball over the advancing keeper.

Cronin then made a low save to deny Parkinson but from the corner home skipper Andy Procter went down as he and Bentley challenged aerially. Referee Iain Williamson pointed to the spot and Philip Edwards confidently tucked away the resultant spot-kick in the 58th minute - 4-3.

Three minutes later Mr Williamson was pointing to the spot once again as Gowling was adjudged to have tripped Gornell inside the area. This time Edwards smashed it past the Gills keeper for 5-3 to Stanley.

Dennis Oli replaced Weston in the 66th minute and moved up front alongside Akinfenwa and McDonald with two-goal Bentley dropping back into central midfield.

Stanley were denied a sixth by a great save from Cronin. A long ball put Gornell away down the right and his lob was brilliantly tipped over by the former Ebbsfleet United man.

However the striker wasn't going to be denied again as moments later, in the 73rd minute, he got clear again down the right and poked the ball past the exposed Cronin - just in case you'd forgotten, it was now 6-3 to Stanley.

A third penalty was awarded in the 78th minute, this time in the Gills favour. The referee didn't have much choice though as keeper Dunbavin pulled McDonald down after the keeper had somehow lost the ball.

After missing his previous penalty for the Gills, Akinfenwa picked the ball up and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way from 12-yards.

In the 85th minute there was a mass brawl right in front of the dug-outs. Spiller was fouled by Ryan who then kicked-out at the Gills midfielder. Suddenly, just like they do in ice-hockey, both benches cleared as players rushed from everywhere to get involved.

In the aftermath, all four officials having had a convention on the pitch, Ryan was lucky to escape with a yellow card but Gills goal hero Bentley, who must have been yellow carded earlier, was shown another quickly followed by a red. Also dismissed was Stanley's assistant-manager Jimmy Bell.

To make matters worse, just as the fourth official showed that five minutes were to be added-on, Ryan, lucky to still be on the pitch, crashed a great angled shot past Cronin to make it an amazing 7-4.

Anyone looking for a crumb of comfort should remember this, the last time that the Gills conceded seven (at Shrewsbury just two seasons ago) they went on to get promoted via the play-offs at Wembley...!!

The next away game - that's only a trip to the current leaders Port Vale!!

Gillingham: Cronin, Fuller, Gowling (Sinclair 74), Lawrence, Palmer, Bentley, Weston (Oli 66, J.Payne, Spiller, McDonald, Akinfenwa.

Subs: Julian, Maher, Rooney, Inkango, S.Payne.

Accrington: Dunbavin, Bateson, Winnard, Hessey, Proctor, Ryan, Barnett, McConville (Turner 82), Edwards, Parkinson (Murphy 90+4), Gornell (Lindfield 90+4)

Subs: Cisak, Richardson, Joyce, Boulding.

Attendance: 1,933

Accrington Match Officials:
Referee: Iain Williamson
Assistant: Ken Haycock & Billy Khatib
Fourth Official: Ryan Johnson


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.