GILLINGHAM 2-1 BARNSLEY: MATCH REPORT
Gillingham moved up to second in Sky Bet League One this afternoon after Bradley Dack's 15th goal of the season helped them to a hard-fought 2-1 victory against in-form Barnsley at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
Dominic Samuel gave the Gills a half time lead, before the visitors – who had won their previous seven league games – equalised through Conor Hourihane.
However, Dack finished from close range barely a minute later to give the Gills their first win over the South Yorkshire side since August 2001.
New loan signing George Williams was named among the substitutes for the match, while Bradley Garmston and Emmanuel Osadebe replaced Adam Chicksen and Ryan Jackson in the starting XI.
Strikers Rory Donnelly and Samuel threatened early on for the Gills with early headers, although the latter's into the side netting wouldn't have counted because of an offside flag.
Yet in the minutes before the game's opener, it was the visitors who had begun to take control. Adam Hammill's low shot from a short free-kick was brilliantly deflected wide by the alert John Egan, and Sam Winnall attempted a spectacular overhead kick that also missed the target.
Samuel opened the scoring on 25 minutes, thanks to a mistake from Barnsley defender James Bree. He gave away possession in midfield, Donnelly collected and threaded a through ball to Samuel, who coolly slotted past goalkeeper Adam Davies.
The visitors should have levelled on the half-hour mark, but Marley Watkins attempted to chip Stuart Nelson from 10 yards following a quick Barnsley attack, when a driven shot would have likely resulted in an equaliser.
Hammill curled an effort well wide in the last minute of normal time, and Kevin Long's header from a corner immediately before the break was blocked.
After Samuel and Donnelly had shot off target from half chances (the latter was set up by a sublime back heel by Doug Loft), Hourihane struck his 62nd-minute equaliser.
The ball fell kindly to the midfielder, who showed sublime technique to half-volley into the bottom corner from outside a packed penalty box.
However, parity lasted a minute. Donnelly's low shot was clumsily parried by Davies, and the on-rushing Dack couldn't miss.
A third Gills goal almost came on 68 minutes. Following a good passing move involving Man of the Match Josh Wright, Donnelly and Loft, Samuel couldn't quite connect with the latter's pass to convert.
Keen to protect their recent unbeaten record, the visitors ended strongly, but were unable to find a second goal. Their best chance came when substitute Adam Chicksen somehow blocked Watkins's goal-bound header from Hammill's cross. Ashley Fletcher's volley was well wide, although Hourihane's deflected shot from 25 yards two minutes from time travelled just past the post.
The Gills travel to Oldham Athletic next Saturday (February 20th) before a home fixture at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium against Chesterfield seven days later.
Gillingham: Nelson, A Morris, Egan, Ehmer, Garmston (Chicksen 64) , Osadebe (McGlashan 86), Wright, Dack, Loft, Samuel, Donnelly
Unused substitutes: G Morris, Hessenthaler, List Norris, Williams
Barnsley: Davies, Bree, Long, Mawson, White, Brownhill (Scowen 61), Isgrove (Fletcher 61), Hourihane, Hammill, Watkins (Khan 85), Winnall
Unusued substitutes: Townsend, Roberts, Williams, Tuton
Attendance: 5, 887 (380 away)
Referee: Mr D Bond