Gills put in good performance at Priestfield but are undone with two quality Northampton strikes.
Gillingham slipped to a disappointing 2-1 defeat on Saturday afternoon against Northampton Town in conditions that made the attacking play Gills had displayed so impressively of late nearly impossible at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
After Gillingham’s brilliant performance in Tuesday night’s draw with Wigan Athletic, Steve Lovell named an unchanged XI for the visit of the Cobblers. Bradley Garmston and Mark Byrne were both rested in midweek but came into the matchday squad in place of Darren Oldaker and Finn O’Mara.
Daniel Powell gave the Cobblers the lead on the stroke of half-time with a strike from 30 yards despite Gillingham bossing most of the period. Lee Martin equalised for the Gills from inside the area but as the hosts pushed forward, another great strike from the visitors gave them all three point with Matt Grimes curling a free-kick in off both posts.
The visitors had the first effort of the game from a free-kick after Gabriel Zakuani had clipped Chris Long 30 yards out. Grimes’ free-kick looked dangerous but drifted a yard or so wide of Tomas Holy’s left hand post.
Gillingham looked to get on to the front foot and forced a corner which caused trouble in the Northampton defence but the ball was scrambled clear. The Gills were looking the more composed of the two teams, knocking the ball around nicely and looking to utilise the pace of Josh Parker and Elliott List out wide.
List fashioned Gillingham’s first real chance of the game as his pull back from the right flank found Lee Martin who crossed first time but Jake Hessenthaler placed his header wide of the post.
Then Parker, holding the ball up superbly, threaded a pass through to List who looked to burst in on goal, but he was cynically held back by Buchanan who only received a yellow card despite the Rainham End baying for a red.
The Cobblers had their first effort of the opening period soon after but Holy managed to get down well low to his right to save Grimes’ shot from the edge of the area.
It was the home side that continued to boss the game and Martin was only denied by a good save from Ingram after a neat team move that found the Gills skipper in the box; he jinked inside a tackle and unleashed a powerful shot that was just tipped wide.
With just over 20 minutes played, Northampton forged out another chance as O’Toole flicked the ball on towards Long but Zakuani was back to make an important block.
A long free-kick lobbed in to the Gills penalty area was only partially cleared to Hoskins but he blazed his volley way over the bar. After that spell of pressure from the visitors, List nearly played in Tom Eaves but he was denied by a superb covering tackle from Turner.
Gillingham were inches from taking the lead after another corner caused havoc in the Cobblers defence. List took the ball off Parker on the six yard box and blasted towards goal from a tight angle but just cleared the angle of the post and bar.
On the counter-attack, Gillingham had another chance as a great diagonal from Sean Clare found its way to Parker on the apex on the box. He cut onto his right foot but his drilled attempt was blocked by Northampton with the ball spinning wickedly wide of the target.
However, the Cobblers took the lead against the run of just before the break as Powell received the ball in space and blasted low past Holy from 30 yards to give the visitors the advantage at half-time.
H/T: 0 – 1
The Gills started the second half brightly with Parker playing a neat one-two with List but got too far under his first time shot to send it soaring over the bar.
But, the visitors nearly doubled their lead shortly after as a long free-kick was headed across goal and Pierre made a good connection but Holy moved across his line quickly to tip the ball around the post at full stretch.
A sloppy bit of play in the midfield from Gillingham then allowed the Cobblers to launch a quick counter attack. Zakuani cleared from under his bar and Grimes volleyed the resulting ball miles over the bar.
The Gills were back on level terms just after the hour through a brilliant move as LEE MARTIN chested down a chipped ball into the box before tucking the ball past the keeper and into the corner of the net.
The crowd was getting right behind Gillingham, although the Cobblers did deliver a warning shot as Poole fired over after the home team only partially cleared a free-kick.
The Gills had a chance themselves with a free-kick from 25 yards after Parker was brought down, but Max Ehmer’s right footed effort had slightly too much power on it and the ball refused to dip below the bar.
However, from an identical position Northampton did retake the lead as Grimes curled a perfect free-kick over the wall which bounced off both posts and over the line.
With less than 15 minutes to go, Gillingham poured men forward as they looked for another leveller; Martin found himself in a great position on the corner of the box but in the windy conditions he sliced his effort wide.
Billy Bingham was the next Gills player with an effort, but his drilled effort from 30 yards was always rising over Ingram’s bar as the home side continued to press.
List then did well to win a free-kick just outside the area with a driving run into the heart of the Cobblers defence. Bingham took responsibility but failed to beat the wall and Garmston’s cross from the left was too heavy for the Gills players waiting in the middle.
The fourth official indicated four minutes of added time as Gillingham desperately looked for an equaliser, but they were unable to break down a stubborn Cobblers defence in a disappointing afternoon.
F/T: 1 – 2
The Gills are back on their travels next weekend when they travel to the New York Stadium to take on Rotherham United.
Gillingham: Holy; Ehmer, Zakuani, Ogilvie; Clare, Bingham, Martin, Hessenthaler, Parker; List, Eaves (Garmston, 75)
Unused subs: Nelson (GK), O’Mara, Byrne, Wagstaff, Chapman, Wilkinson
Northampton Town: Ingram; McWilliams, Pierre, Taylor, Buchanan; Poole, O’Toole, (Foley, 64), Grimes; Hoskins (Waters, 75), Long (Richards, 89), Powell
Unused subs: Cornell, Kasim, Bowditch, Smith
Referee: Mr Ross Joyce
Attendance: 4,640 (293)