McDonald on target as the Gills succumb to a late strikeA quality last minute finish from Ipswich substitute David October saw the Championship outfit claim victory in Tuesday’s entertaining pre-season friendly at a humid MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
Last season's League Two champions certainly put in a creditable performance and will have taken a number of positives from the 90+ minutes which saw Gills boss Martin Allen give 17 players another run-out, the entire defence playing the whole game.
David McGoldrick had earlier put Town ahead with a great free-kick before Cody McDonald caught the visitors napping when hequalised just a matter of seconds after the break.
Included in the strong Tractor Boys line-up named by manager Mick McCarthy was former Gills loanee Frank Nouble and trialists Frederic Veseli, a Swiss youth international, Titus Bramble, released by Sunderland, and Bongani Khumalo, Tottenham Hotspur’s South African international .
In the third minute Danny Kedwell did well to outmuscle Tyrone Mings out wide and he pulled the ball back for Chris Whelpdale, once a schoolboy with the Suffolk club, who smacked an angled right-foot effort over the top.
Almost immediately Nouble looked to break into the left side of the area but he was denied by a great sliding challenge from skipper Adam Barrett.
Just before the 20 minute mark a neat build up by the visitors, who showed some of their Championship class with their neat passing, ended with Nouble forcing a low save out of Stuart Nelson with a strike from 20 yards.
A mistimed challenge from Bradley Dack on McGoldrick proved costly because from the resultant free-kick Town took a 22nd minute lead. The recently-signed striker dusted himself down and curled home a terrific free-kick into the right-hand corner of a diving Nelson’s net. The goal drew decent applause from both sets of supporters in the crowd.
Dack curled an effort over the bar before, at the other end, Nelson pulled off a great one-handed save flying to his left to deny Nouble from the edge of the area.
The Gills had Nelson to thank once again in the 36th minute with a neat double save, Nouble set up McGoldrick who saw the keeper block his effort and he was up quickly to thwart Paul Anderson with a follow up strike.
Ipswich youngster Luke Hyam was next to have a pop from distance but this one flew wide of the target.
H/T: Gillingham 0 – 1 Ipswich Town
There were two change at the break but only one was on the pitch, Ipswich replacing Swiss youth international Frederic Veseli with Elliott Hewitt. The other saw the appearance of Martin Allen on the touchline after choosing to watch the first 45 minutes from another vantage point.
Just 13 seconds into the second-half the Gills drew level, Dack laid the ball off to Cody McDonald in space who waited for Scott Loach to commit himself before slotting the ball under the advancing keeper.
Hewitt was quickly into the game, his low cross was seemingly into the path of the unmarked Nouble but a poor touch failed to trouble anybody and the ball was cleared.
The Gills then had a quickfire treble of chances, Joe Martin’s shot was deflected over, Steven Gregory had a fierce effort beaten out by Loach and then Kedwell’s shot was blocked by a defender.
Nouble slid another effort across the face of goal before Sam Muggleton replaced Whelpdale in the Gills first change in the 57th minute.
McGoldrick put an overhead kick just over the bar before the flow of the game was interupted as both sides decided to make a number of substitutions. The Gills made six changes at varying times during the second 45 minutes while Town used all their outfield options.
New Zealand international Tommy Smith, one of Ipswich's subs, was quickly into the action at both ends, first he saw a header clutched on the line by Nelson at one end before he seemed to tug Akinfenwa to the ground in the penalty area at the other – referee Andy D’Urso gave nothing.
Young Muggleton’s long throws posed the visitors defence a number of problems but the ball just wouldn’t drop kindly for a Gillingham team-mate.
Then with the game looking destined for a draw, deep into the two minutes of time added on Ipswich struck the winner. Hewitt’s cross from the right found first-year pro David October moving up from left-back and his sweet first-time strike back went across goal and inside Nelson’s left-hand post.
Gills – Nelson, Fish, Martin, Legge, Barrett, Whelpdale (Muggleton 57), Gregory (Davies 74), Dack (Butcher 80), Grant (Birchall 67), Kedwell (German 67), McDonald (Akinfenwa 67) Unused subs: Hare, McKain, Miller, Derry, Gowans
Town – Loach, Veseli (Hewitt H/T), Mings (October 79), Bramble (Smith 71), Khumalo (Hammond 71), Wordsworth (Chambers 71), Anderson (Skuse 71), Hyam (Lawrence 79), Nouble (Chopra 66), McGoldrick (Murphy 66), Tabb (Carson 79) Unused subs: Gerken