Gillingham come from behind to defeat Swindon Town 3-1 in Boxing Day clash

Goals from Bradley Dack, Jake Hessenthaler and Ryan Jackson helped Gillingham beat 10-man Swindon Town at the County Ground this afternoon.

After Jonathan Obika opened the scoring for the hosts on 18 minutes, it took Dack just 68 seconds to equalise.

Jake Hessenthaler slotted home from close range before the break, before Jackson completed the scoring with arguably the goal of the game 21 minutes from time to give the Gills back-to-back away wins over the festive period to date.

Only a last-minute save from Town goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux prevented Dack from adding a fourth from the penalty spot.

The Gills lined up with just one change from last weekend's 3-0 victory at Millwall, as Rory Donnelly replaced the injured Cody McDonald upfront.

It was the hosts who had the opening chance of the game after six minutes, as Town midfielder Ben Gladwin broke forward quickly after a Gills attack ended, and managed to get into the area unchallenged before he fired over with the goal in sight.

John Egan had the first Gills' attempt two minutes later, heading wide from a Dack free-kick.

Neither side managed to take control of the opening stages, epitomised by the 180 seconds that led to both sides' opening goals.

Town broke from a Gills corner won when Jake Hessenthaler's low effort was parried wide by goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux, Gladwin played through the charging Obika, and the Tottenham trainee slotted past Stuart Nelson. It proved to be their only shot on target in the game.

Their lead lasted just over a minute, as Dack brilliantly fired into the bottom corner from 25 yards, but the midfielder shot straight at Vigouroux from a position shortly after following good play by Josh Wright.

The Gills continued to grow into the game, their pressing tactics increasingly stifling Town's favoured passing approach, and deservedly went ahead 10 minutes before the break.

Play for the goal started with two long defensive Gills throws from Ryan Jackson, the first of which was almost parallel to his own goal-line.

The ball eventually fell to Donnelly out wide inside Town's half, his cross was knocked away from Vigouroux's hands by team-mate Raphael Rossi-Branco, and Hessenthaler managed to slot home without connecting fully from 15 yards.

H/T: 1-2

The second half began in unusual circumstances, as a pitch invader by way of a fox ran from one end of the County Ground to another in near Olympic 100-metre speed.

Town were seemingly more distracted by the animal's appearance than the Gills: Dack dispossessed Louis Thompson in the his own half on 47 minutes, he played in Donnelly, but the striker lost the ball just as he was about to shoot with the goal in sight.

Approaching the hour, Donnelly headed wide from a Dack cross after Jackson used his speed to turn defence into attack, and Bradley Garmston almost caught out Vigouroux by shooting from an acute angle.

The Swindon goalkeeper got incredibly lucky on 58 minutes: put under pressure by Dack in the box, his clearance fell as far as Donnelly, and had he have been able to keep the ball in play, his knock across goal that allowed Dack to knock into an empty net would have given the Gills a more comfortable lead.

Not that it mattered, as Jackson added another wonderstrike to his collection for the season after 69 minutes. The goal came from more patient play from the Gills, this time starting on the left wing with Garmston, and after good play from Wright and Donnelly, Jackson cut inside on his unfavoured foot and curled into the bottom corner.

Town, who had not lost at home in over two months, rarely threatened the Gills goal in the second half. Jordan Turnball almost connected with a deep cross into the box on 65 minutes, and Nicky Ajose dragged his shot wide as the game entered its latter stages.

They ended the game with 10 men, as Branco's afternoon struggles ended with him picking up a second yellow six minutes from time. Booked for fouling Deji Oshilaja in the opening half, he was dismissed after hacking down Donnelly.

Town's foul play didn't end there, as right back Bradley Barry seemingly elbowed John Egan in the box in stoppage time, but Dack's low penalty was saved by Vigouroux.

The Gills return to action at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Monday (December 28th) against Colchester United, in a 3pm kick off.
F/T: 1-3

Swindon Town: Vigouroux, Barry, Branco, El-Abd (Brophy 74), Turnbull, Rodgers (Traore 88), L Thompson, Gladwin, Robert (Kasim 56), Ajose, Obika
Unusued substitutes: Belford, Ormonde-Ottewill, Ojamaa, Hylton

Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Egan, Oshilaja, Garmston, Hessenthaler, A Morris, Dack, Wright, Donnelly (List 90), Samuel (Norris 83)
Unused substitutes: G Morris, Ehmer, McGlashan, Loft, Osadebe

Attendance: 9, 228

Referee: Mr F Graham