GILLINGHAM 1-0 WOLVES
Gillingham avenged their 4-0 loss at Molineux in August as Cody McDonald’s injury time goal helps the Gills start 2014 with a win.
Despite torrential downpours in the days and hours before kick-off, a superb effort from Groundsmen Tony and Jay meant the game was able to go ahead. The Gills made one change from the side that ended 2013 with a 2-2 draw against Walsall, Charlie Lee replacing Chris Whelpdale.
The rain held off at kick-off, though both teams had to contend with a strong, gusting wind, and both fashioned decent chances in the opening two minutes, Craig Fagan curling an effort into Aaron McCarey’s arms from the left of the area, before Bakary Sako shot wide of Nelson’s right hand post.
In a keenly contested opening, the visitors enjoyed the better of the chances, Sam Ricketts trying his luck from distance, without success, and Kevin Doyle connecting with a James Henry centre that Nelson was well placed to gather on his goal-line.
On 23 minutes Leon Legge did well to turn a Henry corner behind, under pressure at the back stick, as the Gills battled hard to contain their illustrious opponents. Ten minutes later Gills survived a frantic scramble from a Henry free-kick that saw Doyle and Elokibi both shoot from close range but the Gills defence stayed resolute, clearing both efforts off the line.
Three minutes later Nelson was called into action again after Doyle flicked Golbourne’s cross from the left into the path of Kevin McDonald, the former Sheffield United midfielder fired his shot into the turf and the Gills custodian was well placed to claim it on the bounce.
Moments later the visitors should have taken the lead after Jacobs weaved a path through the home defence to let fly an angled drive from the right of goal, Nelson got a touch on it but could only divert the ball into the path of Doyle, who failed to convert into an open goal from four yards out.
With the second half the conditions took a turn for the worse with the wind increasing and rain added into the mix. Gills found the wind at their backs and created openings for Danny Kedwell and Lee but both fired high and wide.
Six minutes into the half the home side made their first change of the night, Bradley Dack coming on for Charlie Lee and the youngster had a hand in the Gills best move of the match so far on 54 minutes. Kedwell found Dack on the right of goal, who laid off for McDonald to rifle goalwards, only for McCarey to palm his effort to safety.
Wolves were much quieter after the interval and didn’t test Nelson until the hour mark, Doyle taking advantage of a slip from Joe Martin to tee up Henry but his effort curled safely into the arms of the Gills No.1.
Five minutes later Peter Taylor made his second change, bringing on Bayo Akinfenwa for Craig Fagan to increase Gills attacking threat. The big man moved up front to partner Kedwell with Cody McDonald switching to the
wide right role.
The introduction of leading scorer Leigh Griffiths sharpened up the Wolves attack but Gillingham continued to look strong at the back, Nelson proving more than equal to long range efforts from Jacobs and Cassidy.
Then on 82 minutes the hosts came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock, a ball into the area finding Kedwell who held off his marker and hit an angled strike that beat the oncoming keeper, only to cannon back off the inside of the far post.
Two minutes from time Leon Legge cleared Ricketts far post header off the line then in the final minute of the match Cody McDonald was on hand to smash home a Jake Hessenthaler corner and secure a famous victory for the Gills.
Attendance: 7758 (910 Wolves)
Gillingham: Stuart Nelson, Joe Martin, Leon Legge, Danny Kedwell, Cody McDonald, Steven Gregory, Charlie Lee (Bradley Dack 51), Michael Harriman, Adam Barrett, Craig Fagan (Bayo Akinfenwa 65), Jake Hessenthaler
Subs not used: Amine Linganzi, Callum Davies, George Howard, Jack Marriott, Donervon Daniels
Wolves: Aaron McCarey, George Elokobi, Dave Edwards, Danny Batth, James Henry (Leigh Griffiths 62), Bakary Sako, Kevin McDonald, Sam Ricketts, Scott Goldbourne, Michael Jacobs, Kevin Doyle (Jake Cassidy 74)
Subs not used: David Davis, Lee Evans, Michael Ihiekwe, Kevin Foley, Jon Flatt