Gillingham suffer their first home defeat for a month as an early goal from Bradford proves sufficient to secure the points.
Following last weekend’s unlucky 2-1 loss at Coventry City, Martin Allen made two changes to his starting XI. Charlie Lee
returned from suspension to replace Charlie Allen
, while Bayo Akinfenwa
came in for Danny Kedwell
to partner Cody McDonald
Gillingham set-up with a new tactical formation, Martin opting for a more attacking 4-4-2 style. Linganzi and Hollands took up the central midfield roles, with Lee on the left flank, while Bayo and Cody held a higher line in the Bradford half.
After a cautious start, Stuart Nelson
was called into action twice to deny early efforts from League 1 leading scorer Nahki Wells, before the Bantams took the lead on eight minutes. Skipper Gary Jones delivered a testing corner from the left and centre-half Andrew Davies was well placed at the near post to nod a glancing header into the far corner.
In the thirteenth minute Gillingham had appeals for a penalty turned down as Charlie Lee
’s hooked effort on goal appeared to strike Rory McArdle’s right arm, but referee Lee Collins waived away the home side’s protests.
Bradford continued to look dangerous and threatened again, five minutes later, as Jones curled another expert set-piece inches wide of the far post. Moments later Nathan Doyle fired wide of Nelson’s left hand post, before Charlie Lee
burst through the Bantams’ defence and pulled a shot just past McLaughlin’s near post.
Gills recovered well from the early goal, taking the game to their opponents, and were denied the chance to level the scores, midway through the half, as Bantams’ keeper Jon McLaughlin pulled off a superb stop to keep out Adam Barrett
’s shot on the turn.
Good determination by Lee presented Cody McDonald
with a chance to shoot on the half hour, the midfielder climbing over the back of a Bradford defender to help the ball through to his team mate, sadly the visitor’s keeper was on hand to pluck his angled drive away from the top corner.
By now chances were coming thick and fast at either end. First James Hanson got in behind the home defence to head a cross from the right wide of the mark, before play switch to the Bradford half as Myles Weston
drilled a low effort into the keeper’s hands from the right angle of the area.
On 37 minutes Charlie Lee
earned a booking for an overzealous challenge on Davies as he sought to get on the end of Akinfenwa’s through pass. Soon after, a deep clearance allowed Wells to race through on the left of goal but the striker fired into the stand without troubling Stuart Nelson
Two minutes before the break Akinfenwa did well to control Nelson’s goal kick on his chest and help the ball through to McDonald who was unlucky with a first time strike from just inside the area, but for all their efforts Gills found themselves trailing at the break.
After the restart, the visitors were first to fashion an opening, Gary Jones the architect once more with a corner to the near post, Rory McArdle rose to meet it, headed across goal and wide of Nelson’s far post.
The Gills had a second penalty shout turned down soon after, when Davies seems to clip Danny Hollands on the edge of the area. Then went closer still on 52 minutes as Bayo helped the ball into the path of McDonald but the striker’s finish went the wrong side of the crossbar.
On 58 minutes Martin made his first change, bringing on the fresh legs of Danny Kedwell
in a straight swap for Akinfenwa. The Bantams continued to threaten, though, with Michael Harriman making a superb block tackle to deny James Hanson and Kyel Reid heading over from ten yards out.
In the 66th minute the Gills were forced to make a second switch after Lee picked up an injury, Martin made another attacking change, sending on Chris Whelpdale
to take up his place on the right of midfield
Five minutes later and following two more penalty appeals the home side seemed destined to score as Danny Hollands ball over the top of defence allowed McDonald to get between his marker and the keeper, having beaten both, Cody was left with an open goal but pulled back for a questionable offside by the linesman’s flag.
With a quarter of an hour left on the clock Martin made his final change, introducing Antonio German
for Myles Weston
to pile on the pressure for the closing stages. Seconds later Danny Kedwell
got on the end of Whelpdale’s long throw but his looping header was just over the bar.
With men committed forward in numbers, Bradford almost caught their hosts on the counter in the 78th minute as a ball down the right flank found Wells out wide in space, he cut in and shot from a tight angle, beating Nelson but not the cross bar.
Six minutes from time sub Mark Yeates drew a save from Nelson with a rising drive to the keeper’s near post. In the closing stages Gillingham piled on the pressure from a series of corners but they could not find a reward for their efforts.
Gillingham: Stuart Nelson
, Joe Martin
, Amine Linganzi
, Leon Legge
, Bayo Akinfenwa
58), Cody McDonald
, Myles Weston
76), Charlie Lee
66), Danny Hollands, Michael Harriman, Adam Barrett
Subs not used: Callum Davies
, Charlie Allen
, Bradley Dack
, Antonio German
, George Howard.
Jon McLaughlin, Stephen Darby, James Meredith, Andrew Davies, Kyel Reid (Mark Yeates 79), James Hanson, Garry Thompson, Gary Jones, Nahki Wells (Alan Connell 90), Rory McArdle, Nathan Doyle.
Subs not used: Ricky Ravenhill, Luke Oliver, Andy Gray, Connor Ripley, Raffaele De Vita
4,965 (442 visitors)