Gillingham unfortunate to lose 1-0 at Notts County as Peter Taylor's side put in a valiant display at Meadow LaneGillingham were unlucky to leave Meadow Lane with no points in a 1-0 defeat on Saturday after a spirited performance against Notts County.
Shaun Harrad’s first half headed effort put the hosts in front at the break, and despite a valiant team display following the interval the Gills were unable to find a way past Roy Carroll.
The former Manchester United stopper saved a late penalty from half time substitute Luke Norris to maintain his clean sheet, as Notts County narrowly held on to clinch victory.
Peter Taylor made three changes to the side that lost 2-1 at Sheffield United with Jake Hessenthaler, Jermaine McGlashan and Aaron Morris returning in place of Gavin Hoyte, Callum Davies and Amine Linganzi – all of which provided options from the bench.
Luke Norris and Bradley Dack also started from the bench with Cody McDonald supported on the flanks by Jermaine McGlashan and Brennan Dickenson.
Gillingham had a chance to take the lead within the first 20 seconds. Dickenson used his pace to run at the County defence, the ball got trapped underneath his feet and Loft picked up the loose pieces, his strike was clean but it cleared the upright.
The visitors had the better of the opening exchanges, a free kick on the edge of the box by Hessenthaler was cleared on the penalty spot before Stephen McLaughlin’s 25-yard drive at the other end was palmed away by Stephen Bywater.
Jake Cassidy had a couple of efforts well saved by the keeper before Kortney Hause sent his header wide, via a Hessenthaler corner, wide of the target.
On 23 minutes the hosts created the best chance of the game up until that point, Garry Thompson found some pace inside the box and was fed the ball from his right side, he managed to get a shot away and sent it just inches wide of Bywater’s right hand post.
The striker went even closer just a couple of minutes later. Gary Jones sent in a corner from the left hand side, Thompson sprinted around his marker and got a great connection but Bywater got down quickly to palm the effort clear.
It nearly proved costly for the Magpies as Dickenson nearly opened the scoring at the other end on 28 minutes. Doug Loft and McGlashan combined to bring Gills forward, Dickenson moved to a more central position and tried to place one in the top corner.
Carroll didn’t move, the shot just clearing the crossbar by half a yard.
On 36 minutes the deadlock was finally broken – County taking the lead courtesy of Harrad. The forward found space inside the box and was spotted by Cassidy, his ball was drilled to the far post and Bywater was unable to get anything on the effort to stop it going in.
County went in search of a second but the best chances towards the end of the half fell to Gillingham.
A stunning 35-yard strike from Hause cleared the bar by a matter of inches before Loft’s closer effort struck the woodwork.
The skipper shifted his weight to the right, moved to the left and tried to curl one into the top corner. Carroll again didn’t move but the bar came to his rescue – the half time whistle sounding soon after.
Taylor made one change at the break, Norris replacing the booked Hessenthaler which enabled the Gills to revert to a 4-4-2 formation.
Within four minutes the visitors nearly got themselves on level terms, Josh Pritchard won a great tackle to regain possession and managed to find McGlashan.
He found a yard of space before floating a cross to the back post, McDonald got on the end of it but saw his header go agonizingly wide of the upright.
Bywater was on hand again to deny a quick snapshot by Thompson, before Louis Laing did well to maintain County’s advantage when McDonald rounded Carroll and looked certain to score.
The shot lacked power and it gave the defender enough time to track back and smash away the danger.
Half chances were created at either end – McLaughlin’s corner sent into the side netting by Thompson before McDonald’s header was comfortably stopped by Carroll.
On 79 minutes Gillingham had their best opportunity of the match to clinch an equalizer when substitute Bradley Dack was fouled inside the box.
Luke Norris was the man entrusted with the penalty, Roy Carroll was booked in the process as he looked to put off the striker and he duly saved it low to his right.
Norris was thwarted by the keeper again a couple of moments later, he drilled a shot straight at the former Premiership stopper but immediately there was concern as the number one fell to the floor.
After a few minutes he got to his feet and was able to continue.
Despite the Gills continuing to push forward it was the hosts who nearly grabbed the second goal of the game – Thompson pouncing on a loose pass by Aaron Morris, the forward went one on one with Bywater but, yet again, the keeper was alert and got his body behind it.
At the other end German, on for McGlashan, had a shot well saved by Carroll before Loft and John Egan had efforts blocked as Notts County just about held on for all three points.
Notts County: Carroll, Dumbuya, Adams, Hollis (c), G Thompson, Cassidy (Ismail 71), Jones, Noble, Harrad (Smith 86), McLaughlin, Laing.
Unused subs: Spiess, Wroe, Murray, McKenzie, Cranston.
Gills: Bywater, A Morris, Egan, Hause, Martin, Loft, Hessenthaler (Norris HT), Pritchard, Dickenson (Dack 61), McGlashan (German 82), McDonald.
Unused subs: G Morris, Hoyte, Davies, Linganzi