Report: Fleetwood Town 0-2 Gillingham

Josh Parker and Luke O'Neill on target as Gills clinch maximum points.

Gillingham climbed to 17th in Sky Bet League One following an impressive 2-0 win over Fleetwood at Highbury on Friday night.

Gills controlled much of the first half with Josh Parker and Luke O’Neill both scoring within the first 20 minutes. Parker’s opener was a right-footed effort inside the box before O’Neill surprised everybody by finding the bottom corner from range using his weaker left foot.

Fleetwood finished the half strongly and looked a more attacking threat early in the second, however Holy remained untroubled as the Gills defence threw their bodies in the way to block any shot or cross.

Steve Lovell made two changes to the side that lost at Carlisle in the FA Cup. Gabriel Zakuani and Connor Ogilvie were recalled to the starting XI at the expense of Ben Nugent and Alex Lacey who were among the subs.

Bradley Garmston wasn’t included in the squad while Steve Arnold took Stuart Nelson’s place as the replacement goalkeeper.

As for Fleetwood they fielded Amari’I Bell and Baily Cargill, both of which have enjoyed loan spells at Priestfield in the past.

Fleetwood got the ball forward early on and had the first shot which went well wide, and within a minute of that missed chance they were a goal down.

Lee Martin picked out Luke O’Neill in space, he turned and found Scott Wagstaff who drove into the box, he pulled the ball back for Josh Parker whose first touch took him away from his defender before his second struck the left glove of Alex Cairns before finding the net.

The visitors continued to play in the same way; Fleetwood not able to live with the Gills attack, although Devante Cole nearly found a way through when his solo run appeared to be enough to at least test Tomas Holy, but defensive cover was available which put the striker off and as a result he missed the target.

This proved to be a momentary lapse for the visitors and, after another fine spell of possession, they got a second on 16 minutes. O’Neill had come forward from his full-back position, cut inside and elected to shoot on his weaker foot from over 20 yards.

The keeper saw it late and, off a wet surface, the ball skidded beyond Cairns and into the bottom corner.

Lovell’s side looked very much in control and nearly got a third when Eaves’ header was saved by Cairns, but Fleetwood progressively began to look more dangerous and on 32 minutes nearly got one back when a strike from distance fell into the path of Jordy Hiwula whose shot from inside the box was well saved by Tomas Holy. The offside flag having already gone up.

The hosts finished the half on top with Cargill’s shot deflected wide before centre-back partner Cian Bolger saw his header go wide of the right hand post as Holy scampered to get across his line.

Scott Wagstaff had to be replaced before the interval with a muscle strain; Jake Hessenthaler replaced him in the Gills midfield.

H/T: 0-2

Fleetwood made two changes at the break as they looked to find a way back into the game. However it was the Gills who had more of the play early on with Clare and Parker tucked in behind Tom Eaves and when in possession the visitors looked comfortable.

Uwe Rosler’s side were patient in their build-up play but were unable to produce a final cross or pass as the Gills defence stood firm. The visitors however remained dangerous themselves and on the hour mark had a half chance to extend their lead but Byrne’s shot was fired well wide following Hessenthaler’s knock down just outside the box.

Fleetwood began to send more bodies forward as the time began to tick away; however Holy remained relatively untroubled. With two minutes left Fleetwood had a great opportunity to force a nervous final few minutes but Dempsey saw his effort blocked by Ehmer before Hiwula fired wide from close range.

That proved to be the final meaningful action of the game as Gills recorded a deserved victory.

F/T: 0-2

Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle, Eastham, Cargill (Sowerby 46), Bell, O’Neill (Hunter 46), Dempsey, Hiwula, Bolger (Pond 70), Glendon, Cole.

Unused subs: Neal, Burns, Maguire, Shwabl.

Gills: Holy, O’Neill, Ehmer, Zakuani, Ogilvie, Wagstaff (Hessenthaler 39), Byrne, Clare, Martin, Eaves (Wilkinson 81), Parker.

Unused subs: Arnold, Lacey, Nugent, List, Cundle

Attendance: 2088 (85 Gills)

Referee: Mr D Webb