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19 September 2015

Gills suffer first defeat of the season at Colchester

Gillingham’s unbeaten run in the league came to an end on Saturday with Colchester recording a 2-1 win at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Gavin Massey found the net after just four minutes but Gills responded immediately with Luke Norris converting from inside the box.

Callum Harriott restored the lead with an excellent strike with Cody McDonald having a penalty saved by Jamie Jones before the half time interval.

The visitors had the better of the opportunities in the second half with Max Ehmer and Bradley Dack unable to find a way past Jones who escaped punishment having appeared to handle the ball outside the area with over 10 minutes to go.

Justin Edinburgh made one change to the side that defeated Blackpool 2-1 with Jordan Houghton coming in for Jake Hessenthaler.

Ehmer continued to deputise for the injured Deji Oshilaja in the heart of defence with Bradley Garmston returning to the squad as one of the substitutes.

Josh Wright kept his place in the starting XI having signed a deal until the end of the season on Friday afternoon.

Gillingham stormed out of the blocks and were unlucky not to take the lead in the second minute. Luke Norris provided an excellent flick on; Cody McDonald read it well and turned his marker before hitting the post with a low right footed strike.

The visitors were within inches of taking the lead, but two minutes later found themselves behind. Massey made a strong run on the right hand side and received the ball in space.

The defence scampered across to prevent the shot but the forward composed himself and slotted the ball away as Stuart Nelson came out to narrow the angle.

Edinburgh’s side suddenly found themselves behind after a strong start, but they responded quickly and on seven minutes levelled the game up.

Gills got the ball forward and within the blink of an eye Norris found himself one on one with Jones, he opened up his body and clinically slotted the ball past the keeper and into the net.

Norris grabbed his third goal of the season in the process, the match all square once again.

And Gills may have grabbed the lead five minutes later had Egan’s header been on target. A Doug Loft corner found the centre back in space but his effort cleared the bar.

Norris very nearly caught Jones off guard a few minutes later, with little options available from a difficult angle he elected to shoot and got everything behind it – Jones kept it out but was rather fortunate with his forearm being the only part of him that made contact.

Both sides were pushing forward in search of a potentially decisive third goal and on the half hour mark it was Colchester who seized the advantage – Norris and Jackson were unable to clear near the danger near the left side corner flag, the ball made its way to Harriott on the corner of the box and his drilled half volley was inch perfect as it nestled into the opposite side of the net.

The visitors had to come from behind again and on 34 minutes had their opportunity. The referee pointed to the spot with a handball decision going against a Colchester defender, and McDonald stepped up to take it

The penalty was well struck but it was a good height for Jones to his right hand side and he got his body behind it to keep the hosts in front.

As the half came to a close Massey saw a cross nearly find the far corner with Nelson unable to catch and Wright positioned well to shield the ball out for a goal kick.

H/T: 2-1

Bradley Garmston was introduced at the break in place of the booked Brennan Dickenson and it was the visitors who began the second half on top.

After a spell of pressure Jones needed to stay on his feet to make two excellent saves, his first from Houghton with the midfielder one on one inside the box, the ball fell to McDonald but he could hardly adjust his feet before the keeper got back up to smother.

On 67 minutes Joe Edwards drilled an effort goalwards and it needed a good block inside the penalty area to prevent Nelson making a save, before Jones caught a Dack header with relative ease following Ryan Jackson’s cross.

With the clock ticking down Gillingham sent bodies forward in search of a second equaliser – a Dack effort from close range was heroically blocked with Max Ehmer also going close.

Sub Rory Donnelly missed the target from 20 yards with the final chance falling to Norris whose shot was blocked.

F/T: 2-1

Gills: Nelson, Jackson, Egan, Ehmer, Dickenson (Garmston 46), Wright (Hessenthaler 64), Houghton, Loft, Dack, Norris, McDonald (Donnelly 64)
Unused subs: G Morris, Osadebe, A Morris, Williamson

Colchester: Jones, Garvan, Briggs, Edwards, Moncur (Gilbey 84), Massey, Kent, Eastman, Vincent-Young, Harriott (Ambrose 80), Sordell.
Unused subs: Parish, Szmodics, Bonne, Sembie-Ferris, Harney

Referee: Mr C Breakspear

Attendance: 4694 (1171 Gills)

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