Richard Day reports from Beechings CrossA mixed Gillingham side including first-team squad members, development and youth players plus a couple of trialists were narrowly beaten by a Nike side in blustery conditions at Beechings Crossyesterday afternoon.
The visitors, based at Loughborough University, are made up from a squad of unsigned Under-20 players with a view to helping them find clubs. They play all around the country and in other recent games they have beaten Watford and drawn with both Fulham and Peterborough United.
In a committed game of very few clear-cut chances the winner came as early as the 13th minute, a long throw from Brandon Horner wasn’t cleared and Alex Parsons was on hand to sweep the ball past Ross Flitney from close range.
The biggest plus-points from the game were that the Gills keeper got 80 minutes under his belt, before being replaced by Dan O’Neill, as he continues to build up his match fitness. Danny Jackman, on his return from suspension, played the full game while Callum Davies and Bradley Dack both played the opening 45 minutes.
After going behind, the Gills, skippered by Joe Carter, began to create openings. Aaron Millbank shot straight at keeper Alastair Worby from the edge of the area, Kane Haysman headed just over and Jackman cracked a long-range volley at the keeper.
In the closing stages of the first-half Nike’s huge striker Tom Foltyn-Brown, who in the main was well-marshalled by Davies, fired over following a quick free-kick while another Nike player went close with a fierce header that flew just over the top.
Ollie Lee, Alfie Coates and Nathan Nyafli were all introduced at the break by Mark Patterson and it was the home side that dominated after the break. Well certainly after penalty appeals were rightly waved away by the referee following a theatrical dive early in the second-half as Lee made a challenge in the area.
Nyafli went close with a powerful header from Jackman’s right-wing corner before the midfielder twice went close himself. First he put a lob from out wide drop inches over the bar and then he ghosted in behind the Nike defence but only managed to guide his downward header wide from six yards.