GILLINGHAM 0-1 PETERBOROUGH: MATCH REPORT
Gillingham conceded in the final minute of the game as they fell to a painful defeat at the MEMS Priestfield on Saturday afternoon against Peterborough United in Sky Bet League One.
Substitute Junior Morias’ brilliant strike in the 90th minute was the sole moment of quality in a tight and gritty game. Harry Cornick and Josh Wright both had chances for the home side in the second half but failed to beat Luke McGee, meaning the Gills fall down to 19th in the table and three points clear of the relegation zone as a consequence.
Gillingham head coach Ady Pennock handed a debut to Tomas Holy in goal, replacing Stuart Nelson, as he shuffled his pack for the visit of Peterborough. Scott Wagstaff, Deji Oshilaja, Wright and Rory Donnelly all returned to the starting XI while Cornick came into the match day squad for the first time since joining on loan from Bournemouth in January.
The Gills lined up in a diamond formation spearheaded by Bradley Dack in front of Wright, Mark Byrne and Ollie Muldoon in midfield.
The home side started brightly with Dack snatching at a long-range shot to send the ball well wide, before a free-kick was just cleared by the Posh defence with Wright lurking in a dangerous area.
Gills debutant Holy cleared the Gordon Road Stand with a thumping clearance to introduce himself to the Priestfield faithful and was alert to claim a low cross when under significant pressure from Craig Mackail-Smith. Holy made his first save in a Gills shirt when he comfortably caught a well-struck Marcus Maddison free-kick from 30 yards.
Gillingham were looking dangerous down the right with the introduction of Ryan Jackson for the injured Wagstaff adding pace, and Wright was unlucky to head over from a cross whipped in by Byrne.
The long-throw was a big threat for the Gills and the Posh defence were struggling to deal with Byrne and Jackson’s delivery, with the home side also looking to squeeze the visitors backline and get the ball in behind the defence at the earliest opportunity.
An injury to the referee broke up play in what was a bitty game as neither side were able to exert any pressure. Maddison was the visitor’s brightest player but a left-footed shot from the midfielder cutting in off the right-flank troubled the corner flag more than the Gills goal.
From then action was at a premium and the game drifted to the break goalless.
H/T: 0 – 0
Pennock introduced Cornick at the break in place of Donnelly with the forward making his Gills debut.
Holy was the first goalkeeper to make a save in the second period, gathering low down to his right to deny Maddison. However, the Gills responded and went close through Cornick who cut in from the right, beating his man, but sending his shot just wide of the left post.
Maddison again threatened to open the scoring for Posh but sent a swerving, dipping free kick inches over the bar early in the second period. The game was finely in the balance and making for a far more entertaining spectacle and Cody McDonald nearly grabbed a goal as he leapt highest in the box, but the Peterborough ‘keeper was equal to his effort.
Cornick had another opening just after the hour as he found himself free in the box following another Jackson throw, but he couldn’t control the bouncing ball and blazed high into the Rainham End.
This effort sparked a Posh revival with Holy doing fantastically well to get across his goal and tip over a superb effort from Chris Forrester from 35 yards. Mackail-Smith then volleyed just wide after Morais nodded the ball into his path.
Lee Martin tested McGee as Gillingham looked to break free from the Peterborough pressure, but his effort lacked power and the Posh stopper gathered safely.
Gaps started to appear as both sides fancied a winner and Dack, in particular, was starting to find dangerous pockets of space in between the visitor’s defence and midfield.
Mackail-Smith had a golden chance to get the winner in the 82 minute as Peterborough carved the Gills defence open but he flicked a header inches wide of Holy’s goal after Michael Smith stood up a great cross from the right flank. Smith then tested Holy himself but the big Czech keeper gathered his long-range attempt.
The Gills countered with Dack charging forward before feeding Wright down the left hand side of the penalty, but his curled effort was straight at McGee who kept the scores level.
Peterborough did grab the lead in the final minute of the game as Morias found space in the middle of the park and fired an unstoppable shot in to the right hand corner from 30 yards.
Gillingham valiantly attempted to grab a leveller in stoppage time but the Posh defence were resolute and the home side fell to a third successive reverse.
F/T: 0 – 1
Gillingham are back on the road next week as they travel to Buckinghamshire to take on MK Dons.
Gillingham: Holy; Wagstaff (Jackson, 30), Ehmer, Oshilaja, Martin; Byrne, Wright, Muldoon, Dack, Donnelly (Cornick, 45), McDonald (Parker, 73)
Unused subs: Nelson (GK), List, Osadebe, Hessenthaler
Peterborough: McGee; Smith, Baldwin, Bostwick, Binnom-Williams; Lopes (Taylor, 57), Forrester, Grant, Maddison; Mackail-Smith (Hughes, 90), Nichols (Morias, 21)
Unused subs: Tyler (GK), Inman, Chettle, Borg
Attendance: 7,569 (297)
Referee: Brendan Malone