The Gills went to the summit of the Sky Bet League One table on Saturday, after beating Bury 2-1 at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium. Ryan Jackson and an Antony Kay own goal put the Gills in the driving seat, before Tom Pope pulled one back for the visitors.
Gillingham started the first half in lively fashion. A neat interchange between Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Emmanuel Osadebe in the second minute led to a shot from Gillingham’s number 50, but the shot was blocked behind for a corner.
A minute later the action shifted to the other end as Pope cushioned a header into the path of the onrushing attacker, but he could only blaze into the Rainham End.
Gillingham opened their account at Priestfield courtesy of Ryan Jackson in the 6th minute. Mark Byrne threaded the ball sweetly behind the defence and Jackson, helped by a Bury error, placed the ball through the legs of Ben Williams in the Bury goal to give the Gills an early lead.
However, Bury were looking dangerous down the flanks, playing the ball directly into Pope up-front. When Gillingham were left exposed soon after the goal, Pope whipped a great ball into the middle, however Paul Konchesky made an exceptional intervention to head over his own goal, ending up in the Rainham End himself.
Hallam Hope nearly sneaked through minutes later, however Josh Pask, who was resolute throughout the first half, eased him off the ball fairly and confidently, despite claims of a barge from Hope.
After 24 minutes, Stuart Nelson
was called into meaningful action for the first time. Jackson fouled Hope, and the resulting Jacob Mellis freekick from 25 yards looked to be heading into the top-left corner, before the Gills stopper clawed the ball to safety.
Jackson saw a lot of the ball down the right in the first half and, after beating Hope down the flank, he was cynically brought down as the Bury wide-man accepted a yellow card for the offence.
Gillingham ended the first half strongly and were unlucky not to go into the break with a more comfortable lead. Firstly, Jackson was released down the right side, again, however Josh Wright just failed to make the contact required inside the six-yard box to convert the low cross.
With 41 minutes on the clock, Osadebe nearly scored his second league goal of the season; a brilliant Konchesky cross was met superbly by the midfielder, however his header thundered against the bar and away. Knott picked up the loose ball and flicked the path over a defender into the path of Wright, who met the ball with a thunderous volley, however Williams denied the Gills midfielder.
Bury manager David Flitcroft made two changes at half-time as Zeli Ismail replaced Nicky Clark, and Danny Mayor came on for Hope.
Gillingham started where they left off in the second half, as some great tight passing in close quarters opened up room for the ever-lively Ryan Jackson. He took the ball past his defender before having his shot blocked.
Bury immediately broke up the pitch, but Pope could only blaze over the bar from a tight angle just three minutes into the second half, as the game began to open up.
Osadebe was controlling the ball superbly in midfield, and his trickery was seeing him past many of the men in black. On one particular charging run he beat a couple of Bury players with ease, and just as he began to think of taking a shot, raced up to the Bury area until a slight mis-control took the ball away from him.
On 57 minutes Gillingham doubled their lead, courtesy of an unfortunate own goal from Antony Kay. Again, Jackson had acres of space down the right-wing, which he drove powerful into before whipping a dangerous ball into the six-yard box which Kay could only divert past Williams.
Gillingham now began to dominate the game, opening up Bury at will. Konchesky charged down the left on 59 minutes and his deep cross found Byrne on the bye-line, however the midfielder couldn’t quite get the ball out of his feet to feed an approaching forward and the ball dribbled out.
After first Ismail, then Osadebe, dragged shots wide, Bury pulled a goal back after 65 minutes. Tom Soares picked up a ricochet down the right and made inroads into the space. His perfect cross found Pope, and the striker buried his corner into the bottom-right corner, giving Nelson no chance.
The resurgent Bury threw the kitchen sink at Gillingham however, a spate of substitutions broke up their rhythm and they failed to carve through a dowdy Gills defence. Niall Maher replaced Craig Jones after 70 mins, before Rory Donnelly and Jake Hessenthaler
replaced Emmanuel Thomas and Knott with 75 minutes gone.
With Bury knocking the ball long towards Pope, the game failed to develop a rhythm as both sides seemed to lose the controlled passing they had previously exhibited.
On 85 minutes Joe Quigley replaced Cody McDonald
for his home debut, and with some great hold up play, and driving runs, he helped Gillingham see the clock out for the first home victory of the season at their maiden attempt.
Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Oshilaja, Pask, Konchesky, Wright, Knott (Hessenthaler, 79), Osadebe, Byrne, Emmanuel-Thomas (Donnelly, 78), McDonald (Quigley, 86)
Unused Subs: Hadler, O’Hara, Oldaker, Dickenson
Bury: Williams, Jones, Leigh, Kay, Pope, Clark (Ismail, 46), Danns, Mellis, Soares, Hope (Mayor, 46), Cameron
Unused Subs: Rachukba, Etuhu, Mayor, Dudley, Bedeau
Referee: Brendan Malone
Attendance: 5,324 (189 away)