Goals from Leon Legge and Michael Harriman help Gills to a fantastic victory at Priestfield
Gillingham recorded their second home win on the bounce as a goal in each half from Leon Legge and Michael Harriman wrapped up a convincing win for Peter Taylor’s team.
Following last week’s disappointing display at Colchester United, Peter Taylor opted to make three changes to his starting XI. Bayo Akinfenwa replaced Danny Kedwell, who is recovering from a midweek hernia operation, and Elliott Hewitt and Myles Weston came in for Dack and Fagan, who both dropped to the bench.
With both sets of fans in boisterous mood, the game got off to a lively start, Joe Martin laying on an early chance for Bayo Akinfenwa but the centre-forward’s hook shot from a tight angle hit the side netting, while Leon Legge saw a shot blocked from a fifth minute Jake Hessenthaler cross.
The Gills continued to look threatening and take the game to their opponents and were rewarded in the eighteenth minute when Leon Legge put the home side 1-0. The powerful centre-half ran into the box unchallenged to head Joe Martin’s free kick, awarded for a foul on Akinfenwa, into the keeper’s top left corner.
Two minutes later the visitors came close to an equaliser, ex-Gill Jay McEveley heading just wide from a corner while soon after Nile Ranger connected with a Nathan Thompson centre but his low stabbed effort was easily gathered by Stuart Nelson.
At the other end Cody McDonald went close on 28 minutes after racing onto Harriman’s pass down the right flank, pulling his shot across goal narrowly wide of the keeper’s far post before Adam Barrett fired a shot on the turn into the advertising boards on the half hour.
The chances kept coming for the hosts, Michael Harriman desperately unlucky with a rising drive from just outside the area, following good work from Akinfenwa. Another Legge header from a Hessenthaler corner this time, almost found its way inside the far post and Martin was just off target with a lash from distance in the 38th minute.
Four minutes from the break Swindon created their best opening of the half as Alex Pritchard squared for Yaser Kasim to shoot, Nelson saving with an outstretched leg to divert the ball over the cross bar, from the resulting corner Grant Hall hooked an effort goalwards which was deflected to safety by a Gillingham block tackle.
In the dying seconds of the half, McDonald broke clear down the left, and drew the keeper before firing an effort across goal that scudded wide of Wes Foderingham’s left hand upright as the Gills maintained a 1-0 advantage into the interval.
The home side continued their attacking style from the restart, Harriman bursting into the box to connect with a ball from the left that sadly came off his shin and into the Rainham End. Soon after the visitors were dealt a blow when Grant Hall was forced off after picking up an injury in a challenge with McDonald.
On 58 minutes Swindon spurned a good opening after Alex Pritchard connected with McEveley’s cross but failed to find the mark, the former earning a yellow card too after using his hand to try and divert the ball past Stuart Nelson.
Moments later at the opposite end Bayo Akinfenwa met Elliott Hewitt’s teasing ball from the right with a firm header that bounced agonisingly wide of the far post as the play switched from end to end.
On 63 minutes sub George Barker raced onto Ranger’s flick-on, only to see his shot blocked by a superbly timed tackle from Hewitt and Nelson did well to hold Pritchard’s free-kick soon after, following Legge’s foul on Barker.
With the visitors looking dangerous Peter opted to make his first change of the match with the fresh legs of Bradley Dack introduced for Myles Weston on 67 minutes. Just two minutes later the substitute tore the Robins defence apart with a run through the centre, sadly Akinfenwa could not connect with his pass into the area.
A similar run from Pritchard through the Gills half caused consternation among home fans 20 minutes from time but another great block tackle from Legge cleared the danger.
Craig Fagan came on for the final 15 minutes Craig Fagan came on, replacing Akinfenwa up front and made an instant impact with a perfect through ball to find McDonald, the forward was impeded by the keeper but
recovered well to win a corner.
Seven minutes from time Gillingham delivered the killer blow that their efforts deserved. Dack linked up with Martin down the left, the latter firing a ball across the face of goal and Michael Harriman arrived at the far post to crash in Gills second of the afternoon and his first goal in Gillingham colours.
Despite five minutes of time added on the Robins failed to offer anything in attack as Gillingham eased to a superb victory.
Attendance: 6,134 (Swindon 372)
Gillingham: Stuart Nelson, Joe Martin, Leon Legge, Bayo Akinfenwa (Craig Fagan 76), Cody McDonald, Myles Weston (Bradley Dack 67), Steven Gregory, Michael Harriman, Adam Barrett, Elliott Hewitt, Jake Hessenthaler.
Subs not used: Amine Linganzi, Callum Davies, Connor Smith, George Howard, Jack Marriott.
Swindon Town: Wes Foderingham, Nathan Thompson (Nathan Byrne 72), Massimo Luongo, Grant Hall (George Barker 50), Ryan Mason (Dany N’Guessan 79), Nile Ranger, Alex Pritchard, Jay McEveley, Yaser Kasim,
Darren Ward, Raphael Branco
Subs not used: Ryan Harley, Louis Thompson, Miles Story, Tyrrell Belford.