Bradley Dack's second half strike not enough as Brighton secure pre-season victory at PriestfieldBrighton came from behind to seal a 2-1 win over an impressive Gillingham at MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Bradley Dack had given the hosts the advantage but the Seagulls stormed back following the interval and were clinical in the taking the chances they created, Dale Stephens netting the equalizer from close range before substitute Chike Kandi rounded off a superb team move to turn the game on its head.
Luke Norris and Dack both came close to securing a draw but Brighton held on for victory.
Justin Edinburgh plumped for Stuart Nelson in goal with Ryan Jackson and Brennan Dickenson operating as full backs without the ball.
Jordan Houghton and Aaron Morris sat into a deeper lying midfield position with Dack, Ben Williamson and Jermaine McGlashan supporting Norris in attack.
The game started quietly but soon gathered pace with the first effort on goal arriving on eight minutes.
Adrian Colunga spotted the Gills number one off his line and attempted a delicate chip into the corner, the ball looked to be heading over but dipped at the last minute and struck the bar.
Three minutes later and Niki Maenpaa was called upon for the first time in the Brighton goal, a cross from Dickenson struck Tom Dallison on the back of the head and the stopper had to look alert to palm the ball wide for a corner kick.
On 22 minutes it was Nelson who had to be alert, Chris O’Grady attempted to find the opposite corner from a tight angle, his shot was well struck but Stuart stuck out his right hand and he got enough on it to divert the ball wide.
Williamson and McGlashan both forced fine saves from Maenpaa at the other end in quick succession, the first striking the body of the keeper at the near post before McGlashan’s effort was brilliantly diverted for a corner.
Norris then took centre stage as he nearly found the net twice in the space of six minutes, he first struck the post following a flick on inside the box which he was unlucky not to convert before a solo run resulted in a brilliant one handed save from Maenpaa.
Gillingham started on the front foot and took the lead on 47 minutes. Norris gained possession, took the ball wide on the edge of the area and spotted the run of Dack.
The midfielder took a touch and took the shot early which deceived Maenpaa and although he got a touch he couldn’t keep it out.
The hosts continued to put pressure on Albion but against the run of play the scores were level on 56 minutes.
The ball was played into the Gills penalty area, Stephens was on the end of it and managed to create enough space for a shot.
Nelson managed to get a touch but the power was just enough to find the corner.
Dack could have restored the lead for the hosts moments later but after cutting inside his marker he was slightly off balance for a left foot shot and it ended up going over the bar.
That miss proved costly as Brighton took the lead on 66 minutes. The Gills defence opened up allowing a cross from the right to find an unmarked Chike Kandi, who had just come on, and he had the simple task of finding an empty net with Nelson sprinting back across his line.
Gills went in search of an equalizer with the best of the chances falling to Norris in the last few minutes, Dickenson’s low cross from the left was played into a dangerous area but the striker was under pressure and had to take the shot early.
With a defender sliding in it proved enough to put off Norris and the shot went wide of the target.
Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Egan, Oshilaja (Ehmer 63), McGlashan (Garmston 72), Dickenson, A Morris, Houghton (Osadebe 63), Dack (Donnelly 76), Norris, Williamson.
Unused subs: G Morris, Hessenthaler
Brighton: Maenpaa, Rosenior (Holla 46), Greer (Rea 64), Dallison (Barclay 83), Chicksen; Calderon (Hunt 64), Ince, Stephens (Ward 64), Forster-Caskey (Kandi 64); Colunga (Monakana 46), O’Grady (Akindayini 64).
Unused subs: Ankergren
Referee: Mr G Ward