BRISTOL ROVERS 2-1 GILLINGHAM: MATCH REPORT
Josh Wright's opener wasn't enough for the Gills as they suffered a stoppage-time 2-1 defeat to Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Wright slotted home from close range after 62 minutes, before Chris Lines equalised and Ellis Harrison won it for the home side in the 91st minute.
Goalkeeper Jonathan Bond came into the team after being sidelined through injury over the past few weeks, with Stuart Nelson dropping to the bench. Justin Edinburgh lined up with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with an attacking trio of Scott Wagstaff, Bradley Dack and Jake Hessenthaler supporting lone striker Cody McDonald.
Rovers captain Tom Lockyer had the first attempt of the game with five minutes played, heading wide from a free-kick.
The opening stages were being played in the centre park, with little action in the final third for both teams, but the Gills broke forward on 12 minutes through Ryan Jackson. The right-back cut inside onto his left foot and shot from the corner of the box, but Kelle Roos made a comfortable save.
Rovers should have been in front on 17 minutes. Lee Brown had a free header at the back post, but failed to make Bond work in the Gillingham goal.
Stuart Sinclair had the next chance for Bristol, playing a one-two with Matty Taylor before firing over from 10 yards.
McDonald limped off halfway through the opening 45 minutes, and was replaced by Frank Nouble in a straight swap up front.
Wagstaff and Dack looked dangerous with the ball at their feet, and continued to make runs in forward areas, always looking for the ball.
The home side’s best chances of scoring were coming from crosses. Rovers were playing the ball into wide areas and delivering to the far-post, where they had a number of on-rushing attackers on multiple occasions.
The Gills ended the half on a positive, piling the pressure on Bristol’s back line and forcing three-consecutive corners. Nouble latched on to the third, a delivery from Dack, but his powerful header went just wide of the upright and into the terraces.
Substitute Billy Bodin had a chance for Rovers just two minutes after coming off the bench, but his effort flew over both the bar and the terraced stand behind the goal.
On 56 minutes Bond made two brilliant saves in the space of 60 seconds, after a period of pressure from the home side.
The ‘keeper got down low for the first save, denying Taylor from a free-kick and then tipped over from Brown after a well-worked set-piece.
As a result of the period of pressure from the hosts, the atmosphere seemed to ramp up a notch. The rain began to pour, too, making the ball zip across the pitch.
Nouble, looking to open his account for the Gills in his second spell at the club, had an opportunity at the back-post following a great cross from Dack, but the frontman couldn’t keep his header down.
However, The Gills took the lead through Wright on 62 minutes. Gillingham were seeing a lot of the ball in the opposition box, and the captain was left unmarked at the far post following a long Jackson throw, and coolly slotted the ball past Roos and sprinted off to celebrate with the travelling faithful.
On 72 minutes the two Rovers substitutes nearly combined for the equaliser. Christian Montano’s ball flashed across the face of the goal, and Harrison was inches away from tapping in, but couldn’t manage to get a toe on the ball.
Lines levelled the score on 82 minutes, finishing past Bond in a one-on-one situation.
Both teams looked to grab a late winner, and it was an end-to-end affair with the final stages approaching. But Rovers won it with a 91st-minute goal from Harrison. The substitute was first to react from a ball across goal, and squeezed his finish in from an acute angle. Bond managed to get a hand on the ball but the sheer power took it past him into the rippling net.
Bristol: Roos, Leadbitter, Brown, Lockyer, Hartley, Taylor, Lines, Clarke (Bodin, 45), Sinclair (Montano, 68), Gaffney (Harrison, 59), Colkett
Unused subs: Mildenhall, James, Boateng, Clarke-Salter
Gillingham: Bond, Jackson, Herd, Ehmer, Oshilaja, Wagstaff (Byrne, 63), Hessenthaler, McDonald (Nouble, 23), Konchesky, Dack (List, 90), Wright
Unused subs: Nelson, Knott, Pask, Oldaker
Referee: John Brooks