Gills suffer home defeat at the hands of Portsmouth.
Portsmouth’s Matty Kennedy struck seconds after the half-time interval to help guide Kenny Jackett’s side to a 1-0 win at MEMS Priestfield Stadium in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Sunday afternoon.
The winger found the net 30 seconds into the second half with an initial effort having come off the upright, and the Gills struggled to create chances as they went in search of an equaliser.
Josh Parker had an effort ruled out for offside, following Finn O’Mara’s excellent cross. The introduction of Elliott List had the Portsmouth defence on the back foot at times but were able to see out the rest of the game to clinch all three points.
Peter Taylor made two changes to the side that lost 1-0 at Blackburn; both of which forced upon him with Mark Byrne suspended and Gabriel Zakuani away on international duty. As a result Finn O’Mara made his full home league debut and Billy Bingham returned to the starting XI after playing 45 minutes against Colchester during the week.
Both sides came out of the traps with the intentions of playing a high tempo game; Lee Martin’s early run into the box was halted following a clumsy coming together. The Captain appealed for a penalty but it fell on deaf ears with the referee choosing to continue. Wilkinson was injured in the build up but was okay to continue.
Ben Close had a shot from 20 yards which was well blocked by Max Ehmer, before Matty Kennedy curled an effort straight into the hands of Tomas Holy.
The Gills stopper was required again on 20 minutes when a cross from Kennedy was only half cleared by the defence and Close was well positioned to try his luck only for Holy to get down quickly and claim with both hands to his right-hand side.
Seven minutes later and Martin won a free-kick 25 yards out, just left of centre and it was Bingham who fancied it on this occasion. His effort certainly didn’t lack power but the shot just missed the corner of the left hand upright.
Gillingham felt they should have had a penalty just after the half hour mark; Sean Clare went down inside the penalty area, the challenge looked badly timed but the referee waved away the appeals to the anger of the midfielder and the Gills bench.
Pompey had the better of the chances, and more possession as the half drew to a close, but were unable to make it pay prior to the interval. Gills were forced to make a change on 45 minutes with Jack Tucker coming on to make his full debut with Ben Nugent coming off injured.
The management had hardly taken their seats in the dugout when Portsmouth scored the opening goal of the game. A cross from the right was headed against the frame of the goal and Kennedy was unmarked inside the box to smash home from 12 yards.
The visitors dominated for a short spell following the goal with Kennedy going close on a number of occasions, but Gills appeared to weather the storm and the introduction of List and Darren Oldaker seemed to have some impact.
Parker felt he had scored just shy of the 70 minute mark but the linesman raised his flag immediately with the wing-back having converted an excellent ball from O’Mara.
The decision was marginal with the celebrations of the home support cut short by the officials.
As the time ticked away Portsmouth went in search of a second to kill the game off; Matt Clarke headed narrowly wide of the target before a couple of set plays for the Gills were dealt with by the Pompey back four.
Gills: Holy, O’Mara, Ehmer, Nugent, Parker, Ogilvie, Bingham, Hessenthaler, Martin (List 57), Clare (Oldaker 67), Wilkinson.
Unused subs: Arnold, Simpson, Wagstaff, Nash.
Pompey: McGee, Clarke, O’Keefe, Hawkins, Kennedy, Main, Donohue (Haunstrup 67), Lowe, Thompson, Bennett (Evans 82), Close (Rose 82).
Unused subs: Bass, Naismith, Talbot, Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Attendance: 8163 (1333 Portsmouth)
Referee: Mr C Sarginson