Gillingham suffer their first home league defeat of the season as Scunthorpe take advantage of first half sending offTen man Gillingham slipped to their first home league defeat of the season following a 3-0 loss to Scunthorpe at MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday.
The dismissal of Doug Loft on 34 minutes following a tackle on Luke O’Neill had an immediate impact with Paddy Madden finding the net from close range shortly before the interval, with Captain Neal Bishop doubling the advantage on 72 minutes after converting from just a few yards out.
Gary McSheffrey rounded out the scoring deep into stoppage time when he advanced through on goal and beat the helpless Stephen Bywater.
Peter Taylor made seven changes to the side that beat Colchester on Tuesday evening, including in goal where Bywater replaced Stuart Nelson.
Luke Norris returned up front with Aaron Morris slotting in at right back – Josh Pritchard partnered Loft in the centre of midfield.
Gillingham started the brighter and within 58 seconds could have scored the opening goal – McDonald suddenly found himself one on one at a tight angle inside the box, Bobby Olejnik made himself big and got a slight touch to palm it wide, however the referee gave a goal kick.
On six minutes Scunthorpe created a great chance - Madden received the ball wide on the right hand side and sent a teasing ball between Bywater and the back four for strike partner Rory Fallon.
The forward had, what looked to be, a simple task of touching the ball home but sent it over the crossbar from no more than six yards.
On the quarter hour mark the visitors thought they had gone in front when Madden headed in a cross from the left wing – Bywater was unable to get any contact at his near post but the offside flag was immediately raised.
Efforts for McDonald and Fallon were thwarted at either end before Olejnik pulled off a wonder save to deny Norris the opener. A cross from Loft was met with a firm header by the striker, but the keeper was alert and tipped it wide for a corner kick.
On 34 minutes the hosts were reduced to ten men when Loft was sent for a foul on O’Neill. The midfielder’s studs were showing and the referee weighed up his options before brandishing a red card.
Scunthorpe took advantage of their numerical advantage and went a goal up through Madden. Sean McAllister spotted a run from the centre forward and played him through – Egan and Davies did their best to track back but Bywater’s outstretched right hand wasn’t enough to prevent the striker going round the keeper and slotting home.
Peter Taylor was sent to the stands before the break for launching a water bottle on to the ground which made its way onto the playing surface.
Taylor made a change at the break with Amine Linganzi replacing Pritchard in the midfield, however it was the visitors who continued to press and nearly grabbed a second on 47 minutes.
A delivery to the back post nearly found its way in, however a low shot flew across the face of goal and somehow Gillingham managed to clear.
The visitors controlled possession for the first 15 minutes of the half and Fallon had another opportunity on 64 minutes to increase the lead, but yet again he headed over the bar from close range.
Madden had two further attempts thwarted by the impressive Bywater, but despite the crowd’s best efforts the ten men of Gillingham were unable to fight their way back into the match.
Their cause was made more difficult on 72 minutes, a cross from McSheffrey was guided to the back post and Captain Neal Bishop got his head to the ball first and diverted it beyond the helpless Bywater who could do nothing to stop it going past him.
However the keeper remained alert and thwarted Madden twice prior to the final goal of the afternoon.
Linganzi had just had a shot tipped over by Olejnik before Madden put McSheffrey through on goal, and the former Birmingham man made no mistake to clinch all three points.
Gills: Bywater, A Morris (Dickenson 65), Egan, Davies, Martin, McGlashan, Dack, Loft, Pritchard (Linganzi HT), Norris (German 74), McDonald.
Unused subs: Nelson, Hoyte, Legge, Hessenthaler.
Scunthorpe: Olejnik, McAllister, Madden, Myrie-Williams (Adelakun 75), Bishop, O’Neill, Boyce, McSheffrey, Williams, Brisley, Fallon (Burton 87).
Unused subs: Severn, Sparrow, Hawkridge, Kee, Llera.
Referee: Mr P Bankes
Attendance: 7042 (162 Scunthorpe)