John Marquis comes off the bench to help guide Gillingham to a 1-0 win over playoff chasing BradfordJohn Marquis came off the substitute’s bench to net Gillingham’s winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Bradford City at MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday.
The striker, on loan from Millwall, netted his eighth goal in a Gills shirt on 72 minutes as the hosts overcame a slow start to record maximum points.
Glenn Morris was in fine form, denying both Billy Clarke and John Stead in the first half before a commanding display following the interval.
Manager Justin Edinburgh named an unchanged team to the side that drew 3-3 at Leyton Orient on Easter Monday, with Luke Norris keeping his place in attack alongside Cody McDonald.
Jermaine McGlashan and Amari’I Bell operated from the wings with Leon Legge at the heart of defence alongside Max Ehmer and John Egan.
Bradford stormed out of the traps and threatened with two early set pieces, however McDonald and Captain Doug Loft were able to clear any potential danger.
Morris then pulled off a magnificent save to deny Clarke inside the penalty area, James Meredith advanced down the left side and picked out the forward – he skipped inside and found space for a low shot which Morris got down to and made a brilliant stop.
The hosts weathered the early storm and progressively worked their way into the match, a shot by Hessenthaler was saved at the near post before Norris found the side netting with a difficult header.
Hanson and Legge were involved in a physical battle, both of which picking up bookings due to late challenges before Loft headed off the line as Stead latched onto a Billy Knott corner.
With five minutes to go until the break another header, this time by Stead, was brilliantly cleared off the line before a follow up shot at the near post was impressively kept out by the inspired Morris.
Rory McArdle came close to handing Bradford the lead on 48 minutes when Knott’s corner was narrowly headed over the bar by the centre half. A repeat set piece moments later saw Stead miss the target from close range.
On 67 minutes John Marquis, on for Hessenthaler, sent a searching ball down the right wing for the sprinting McGlashan.
The winger looked second favourite but won a shoulder to shoulder, spotted McDonald but the forward was unable to get a clean strike away as a recovering defender put in an excellent block.
On 74 minutes it was Gillingham who finally broke the deadlock. Marquis, on for Hessenthaler, had seconds earlier had a shot blocked but on receiving the ball from the left wing he took a touch before curling an excellent effort into the far corner.
The Rainham End erupted as the ball flew into the net, Marquis making an immediate impact after coming off the bench.
The forward nearly had a second minutes later, a similar looking effort looked to be making its way past Williams for a second time but Stephen Darby retreated and headed off the line.
Bradford appeared to be running out of ideas and were continually thwarted by a commanding Morris who was well protected by Ehmer, Egan and Legge.
A late shot by Loft was well blocked by the Bantams defence, and despite four minutes of stoppage time, Phil Parkinson’s men were unable to find a way through.
Gills: G Morris, Egan, Ehmer, Legge, McGlashan, Bell (Dickenson 71), Loft, Dack, Hessenthaler (Marquis 63), McDonald, Norris (A Morris 63).
Unused subs: Nelson, Hoyte, Muldoon, Pritchard
Bradford: Williams, Darby, Meredith, Liddle (Yeates 79), Hanson, Clarke, Knott, MacKenzie (Webb-Foster 90), Stead, Morais (Zoko 79), McArdle.
Unused subs: Urwin, McMahon, Halliday, Dolan
Attendance: 5221 (312 Bradford)
Referee: Mr P Tierney