Richard Day reports from Underhill
Gillingham remain top of the table having enjoyed a 3-1 victory in the sunshine at Underhill thanks to first-half goals from Jack Payne, Danny Kedwell and Deon Burton.
The result also means the Gills had kept up their 100% away record as well as remaining unbeaten in League Two.
The Gills put a lot of hard work in the heat all over the park in the 90-odd minutes and restricted bottom club Barnet, who have just one point, to limited chances.
Martin Allen, on his return to Barnet, made seven changes to the Gillingham team that had been narrowly beaten at Crawley in midweek, in came Stuart Nelson, Jack Payne, Charlie Lee, Danny Kedwell, Callum Davies, Deon Burton and Adam Barret who captained the side.
Mark Robson a familiar face to Gillingham supporters and now Head Coach at Underhill named ex-Gills Barry Fuller, who skippered the Bees, and Curtis Weston in his starting XI along with former trialist Jordan Brown while former loanee Olly Lee was amongst the substitutes.
With the Gills kicking down the slope, the first opening of the game came in the fifth minute when Chris Whelpdale drilled a low shot at Graham Stack from around 20-yards.
As the clock ticked into the 11th minute the visitors went in front, a Whelpdale throw from the left found its way to Payne who drilled a low shot past the motionless Stack from the edge of the area.
The Gills travelling masses, which numbered 1,144 in various sections, hadn’t even finished celebrating when it became 2-0 a minute later. Charlie Lee sent Charlie Allen down the right, his first cross was blocked but his second was pin-point for Danny Kedwell to rise unmarked and nod back across the former Hibernian keeper and into the corner of the net. It was the striker’s fifth goal of the campaign.
Stack was then able to collect as Allen looked to break forward and the keeper was called into action again when Whelpdale overhit a pass towards Kedwell.
Barnet pulled a goal back in the 23rd minute, Mark Byrne knocked in a corner from the right and central defender Jack Saville rose among a clutch of players to net with a downward header.
Callum Davies picked up the first yellow card of the afternoon in the 25th minute for a mis-timed challenge on Ricky Holmes.
Burton cracked a long-range free-kick inches wide and Kedwell hooked a shot out of the ground
before the home side went close again in the 33rd minute when Andy Yiadom turned Joe Martin and crossed from the right but Jon Nurse could only flick the ball over at the near post.
Another Lee long-throw led to the Gills restoring their two-goal lead in the 39th minute, the throw was helped on at the near post (it was not clear who as a number of players went up) but it fell nicely for Burton at the far post who looked stunned as his header found the back of the net from six yards.
The experienced Burton then put a volley at Stack as the Gills finished the half encamped in their opponents half.
H/T: 1 – 3
Barnet lost the industrious Byrne right at the start of the second-half, new signing John Oster, formerly at the likes of Everton, Sunderland and more recently Doncaster Rovers, replaced him and they were soon testing Stuart Nelson, Yiadom crossed low but Nurse shot straight at the Gills keeper.
Within six minutes of the restart Robson had to make a second change as goalscorer Saville, who had injured himself late in the first-half when challenging Kedwell, limped off with Jake Hyde going on.
Payne earned himself a booking in the 54th minute for a foul on Holmes.
The Gills had a great chance to extend their lead three minutes later, a neat one-two between Whelpdale and Burton ended with the latter crossing but although Allen was well-placed he failed to hit the target from around six yards.
Myles Weston was introduced for Whelpdale in the 68th minute and four minutes later Ben Strevens, once of Barnet, took over from Burton up front.
Curtis Weston cracked an angled drive over the top for the home side before Fuller saw yellow for a heavy tackle on the Gills Weston.
Lee went close to increasing the lead in the 78th minute but his diving header, from Allen’s corner, flew inches over the top.
With eight minutes remaining Holmes worked himself into a shooting position down the Barnet left but Nelson blocked well at his near post.
Matt Fish limped off to be replaced by Tom Flanagan with five minutes remaining, Davies moving across to right-back.
Barnet’s Weston then broke into the area and rounded Barrett and Nelson but he was crowded out and unable to get in a telling shot – his eventual pass was wayward.
Having done well to go into the break 3-1 ahead, the Gills weren’t severely tested after the break and the three points of course keep them top of the League Two table.
Barnet – Stack, Fuller, Brown, Kamdjo, Saville (Hyde 51), Byrne (Oster 47), Nurse, Holmes, Yiadom (Lowe 90), C.Weston, Stephens
Unused subs: O.Lee, Abdulla, Warren, Cowler
Gillingham – Nelson, Fish (Flanagan 85), Martin, Payne, Whelpdale (M.Weston 68), C.Lee, Kedwell, Allen, Davies, Burton (Strevens 72), Barrett
Unused subs: Frampton, Montrose, Dack, Forecast,
Attendance – 2,835 (1,144 Gills)
Referee: Graham Scott
Assistant Referees: Robert Whitton & David Avent
Fourth Official: Alan Young