John Egan nets late winner as Gills record narrow victory over Tonbridge Angels

Gillingham recorded their second win in the space of five days after defeating Tonbridge Angels 2-1 at Longmead Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

John Egan got the winner on 87 minutes with an accurate header, with substitute Tom Pearson having brought the visitors level following Luke Norris’s opener just before half time.

The game was played in the memory of Junior Dian who sadly passed away while playing for the Angels in a game against Whyteleafe earlier in the week.

There was an area within the ground where supporters could lay tributes and pay their respects with Cody McDonald laying a wreath on behalf of Gillingham FC prior to kick off.

Justin Edinburgh again chose to field two different XI’s in either half, with the exception of trialist Ryan Edwards who played the entire game.

The Australian midfielder helped cover the loss of Doug Loft who had a sore calf, with Callum Emptage and Josh Pritchard also missing out.

The first half chance was created on 10 minutes, a cross field ball from the hosts made its way to Nick Wheeler on the left wing. He cut inside using some clever footwork but his right foot shot was well saved by Stuart Nelson.

Four minutes later and Bradley Dack came close to breaking the deadlock. A cross by Brennan Dickenson found the Gills number 23 in space; he won the ball back after losing possession and sent a left footed effort narrowly over the bar from a tight angle.

Shortly after the Gills were dealt a blow when Josh Hare fell to ground after an innocuous looking challenge.

Physio Gary Hemens ran out quickly to treat the defender and soon asked for the stretcher.

Josh was carried off with the Gills having to play with 10 men for a short period – Osadebe then had two efforts in quick succession, the first well saved by Di Bernado before a strong solo run saw the midfielder drive into the box only for his ultimate effort to be deflected and made easier for the keeper.

Before the break the crowd were treated to two excellent saves by Nelson – both of which were powerful headers inside the box by Tom Phipp.

With the home supporters ready to cheer on both occasions, the keeper clawed out both headers to keep the scores level.

And they proved to be pivotal saves as Luke Norris found the net with just seconds left to play in the half. Tonbridge lost possession in a crucial area, Osadebe fed McDonald who in turn found his strike partner in space and Norris made no mistake with a clinical finish across the keeper and into the corner.

H/T: 0-1

The half started quietly with neither side able to take control of proceedings, and it took 14 minutes for the first chance to be created.

Ryan Jackson found space on the right hand side for a cross, his target was John Egan and the defender met the delivery well but sadly for him his header missed the target.

With Gills looking comfortable the score became 1-1 on 68 minutes. Egan attempted to head the ball back to Glenn Morris with Pearson looking to take advantage of any mistake, the ball wasn’t heavy enough and the striker had the simple task of rounding Morris before finding the empty net.

Tonbridge began to apply pressure with Kostas Riascos forcing Morris to make a save from close range before Nathan Elder sent a header over the bar from inside the six yard box.

Gillingham began asking more questions of the Tonbridge defence as the second half progressed, Michael Freiter coming closest to scoring on 80 minutes when his shot, via a Bradley Garmston cross, was blocked at close range.

However the visitors finally did get their noses back in front with three minutes to play. Edwards produced a pacey cross towards the penalty spot and Egan managed to get enough power behind his header to beat Di Bernado and claim the win.

F/T: 1-2

Tonbridge Starting XI: Di Bernado, Folkes, Parter, Carey, Ball, Miles, Phipp, Wheeler, Blewden, Parkinson, Webster.
Unused subs: Whitnell, Slocombe

Gillingham (1st half): Nelson, Hare (Egan 33), Ehmer, M Dickenson, McGlashan, Osadebe, Edwards, Dack, B Dickenson, Norris, McDonald

Gillingham (2nd half): G Morris, Jackson, M Dickenson, Egan, Garmston, A Morris, Edwards, Hessenthaler, Freiter, Donnelly, Williamson

Referee: Mr J Lengthorn