Ady Pennock's men secure another victory as an impressive pre-season run continues.
A dominant performance from the Gills saw them run out comfortable victors against Belgian side Patro Eisden on Tuesday night at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
The Gills led at the break as Darren Oldaker displayed his set-piece prowess yet again. First he cancelled out Patro Eisden’s opener with a curling free-kick from the corner of the area, before teeing up Josh Wright to blast in off the post with a superbly worked training ground routine. Connor Ogilvie headed home the third Gills goal from a corner before Noel Mbo rounded off the scoring when he nodded home a Scott Wagstaff cross.
Gillingham Head Coach Ady Pennock named two separate XIs for each half using the game to give plenty of his players minutes on the pitch, and again favoured three central defenders, utilising wingbacks to create width.
The home side started brightly shooting towards the Rainham End, winning a succession of free-kicks with Elliot List and Bradley Garmston utilised at every opportunity.
Luke O’Neill had the first chance of the game as he latched onto a loose ball following a free-kick delivery but his shot was blocked on the line. Patro Eisden broke quickly but O’Neill sprinted back to make a crucial, goal-saving tackle and keep the Gills level.
Minutes later Liam Nash had a golden opportunity to open his account at Priestfield as List’s cut back from the by-line found the Gills striker but he sliced his effort wide. Nash was involved again as a long ball over the top found him in space, but from a very tight angle the goalkeeper denied him.
However, it was Patro Eisden who took the lead very much against the run of play. A long-ball over the top found an onrushing striker who took a touch before blasting past Tomas Holy.
The home side looked to get back on level terms immediately, and were inches away from doing so. List recycled the ball from a free-kick and delivered a teasing cross which picked out Wright perfectly, but his header smashed against the crossbar and rebounded away to safety.
Josh Parker and Billy Bingham were next to try and get Gillingham back into the game, but Parker fired wide from 25 yards and Bingham was denied by the keeper from a similar range.
The visitors nearly gifted Gillingham an equaliser when a harmless-looking ball was prodded back towards his own goal by a Patro Eisden defender, beating the onrushing keeper but dribbling past the post and saving his blushes.
Gillingham’s superiority did eventually tell as two quick-fire goals from free-kicks gave them a half-time lead.
Firstly, DARREN OLDAKER curled home a free-kick from the left corner of the box which beat the onrushing Gills players, including O’Neill at the far post, and squirmed past the keeper into the bottom corner.
Minutes later Oldaker took a free-kick from the opposite side of the box and from a well-worked routine he pulled the ball back to JOSH WRIGHT who fired in off the post and into the back of the net.
H/T: 2 – 1
The Gills lined up in the same formation in the second half with Aaron Simpson and Wagstaff providing the width.
Mbo went close for the Gills early on as a great first touch looked to have set him in on goal, but the Patro defender recovered well to make a challenge and put the ball behind for a corner. Gillingham continued to press with Greg Cundle finding enough space in the box to fire towards goal but his shot was too close to the keeper who made the save.
The home side were keen to showcase their attacking ability to Pennock and Mbo again nearly scored but his looping header from a fantastic Wagstaff cross was tipped over. From the corner, whipped in by Lee Martin, CONNOR OGILVIE rose highest and powered home a header to extend Gillingham’s lead.
Tom Hadler remained alert in the Gills goal and had to be at his best to deny Patro Eisden as they countered, coming off his line quickly to make a good block and keep the two-goal lead intact.
Gillingham extended their lead further as Wagstaff did brilliantly to get past his man on the right flank and stand up a cross. NOEL MBO was waiting in the middle and powered his header past the keeper and into the net.
A string of substitutions from Patro Eisden broke up the rhythm of the game but the Gills continued to dominate possession and dictate the tempo. The visitors were still piling men forward but an optimistic shot from 30 yards sailed over Hadler’s bar and into the Rainham End, and another from further out bobbled comfortably wide.
While looking reassured at the back the youthful Gills side was looking dangerous up front. Cundle looked to get on the scoresheet, bursting into the box and curling towards the top corner from a tight angle but his shot flew just wide.
Patro Eisden had the best chance of the game with five minutes to go as Gillingham allowed a throw to bounce across the top of the area, but the attackers firm shot just cleared the bar.
That was to be the last meaningful action as the game meandered to the close and the Gills secured another promising pre-season result.
F/T: 4 – 1
The Gills will take two different squads to their final pre-season games, with one team travelling to Colchester United on Friday evening and the second taking on Canvey Island away from home on Saturday afternoon.
Gillingham First Half: Holy; Garmston, Ehmer, Bingham, O’Neill, List; Wright, Byrne Oldaker; Parker, Nash
Gillingham Second Half: Hadler (GK), Wagstaff, O’Mara, Tucker, Ogilvie, Simpson; Chapman, Martin, Stevenson, Cundle, M’bo
Unused subs: Eaves
Referee: James Linington