Scoreline not reflective of Gills performance as Steve Lovell's men suffer defeat at the hands of Sunderland.
Gillingham suffered back to back league defeats as they went down 4-1 to Sunderland at Priestfield on Wednesday night. Despite an encouraging display where Gills had chances throughout, the clinical edge of the visitors was to prove to be the difference.
In what was an entertaining game Gillingham took an early lead through the head of Tom Eaves – the striker's fourth goal of the campaign. The visitors responded though, scoring three times in 20 minutes before adding a fourth in the second half to put gloss on the scoreline. 4-1 was a little harsh on Gills and probably deserved more for their efforts.
Gillingham were unchanged from their narrow 2-1 defeat at Walsall, while there was a place for Elliott List on the bench who had recovered from the shoulder injury he sustained in pre-season.
The game started at an electric speed and Gillingham made the perfect start. An early corner from the right-hand side was played short to Luke O’Neill and the full-back delivered a delicious ball to the back post where Tom Eaves guided the ball in to the net to give the Gills the lead in front of a packed Medway Priestfield Stadium.
Sunderland responded almost immediately though, a corner of their own was turned in by Chris Maguire at the second attempt at the far post as the game went all square after just five minutes, before some in the crowd had even taken their seat.
As the game continued at a hectic speed both teams had half chances. Firstly, Max Power shot just over following good build up play from the visitors before Billy Bingham saw his shot deflected over the bar for the Gills.
The visitors were to go ahead after 18 minutes. An effort from the edge of the box was struck in to the top corner by George Honeyman. A full stretch Tomas Holy couldn’t quite reach far enough to keep the shot out as the visiting 2000 fans went wild.
The visitors were to double their lead just minutes later. Again, with lots of time at the edge of the box, Max Power was able to place an effort in to the bottom corner. Gills had a mountain to climb with just 20 minutes played – 3-1 to the visitors.
As Gills looked for a way back in to the game, Josh Parker saw his swivelled effort saved comfortably before Brandon Hanlan saw his goal bound effort blocked by Jack Baldwin.
With the game finally starting to settle down, Gills were to come close to halving the deficit. Firstly, a curling Tom Eaves effort flew just over the bar, following good work from Billy Bingham. Before a Max Ehmer flick on was just out of Eaves’ reach, with the forward surely destined to score had it fallen to him.
Just before the interval, Gills came very close to cutting the lead. Another well worked set piece saw Regan Charles-Cook and Luke O’Neill combine; the latter produced another terrific cross, where Josh Parked jumped highest but he headed just wide of the near past.
In the final action of the half, the impressive Max Power saw a cross fly over Tomas Holy’s bar. An entertaining half of football where both teams looked dangerous. It was a hectic start with four goals in the opening minutes, but Gills still had a lot of work to do in the second half.
Neither side made a change at the break as the second half started with both sides shooting towards their fans. Gills fans were up in arms after 50 minutes. Following a long ball forward, Tom Eaves did well initially to play in Regan Charles-Cook. The midfielder went down in the penalty area, but despite shouts from all three corners of the ground the referee’s only decision was to book Max Ehmer for his protests.
Gills were knocking on the door and came close just minutes later. Following good play from Charles-Cook a cut back fell to Eaves and the striker’s audacious chip to the back post was cleared off the line with Gills players queuing up to score. Gills were to come even closer seconds later as a Mark Byrne cross was headed by Parker only to be saved by Jon McLaughlin at the near post. Somehow the score was still 3-1.
Gills were to rue there missed chances as the away side were to stretch their lead on the hour mark. Following good work down their left-hand side the Black Cats were to net their fourth. Following a fortunate ricochet in the box, Josh Maja was on hand to prod home. The striker’s fourth goal in as many league games.
It wasn’t to be Gills night and even when substitute List did well to engineer a cross – the forward putting a ball the across the face of goal towards the onrushing Brandan Hanlan. The striker's bundled effort was cleared off the line just as it looked to be heading in. agonising for the home side.
Gills were continuing to look a threat and a deep cross from a corner was steered the wrong side of the post. With five minutes to go Bradley Stevenson replaced Hanlan; the young midfielder coming on for his league debut following a good performance at Millwall in the cup last week. A late Charles-Cook effort flew over the bar, but the game had gone and the away side, roared on by 2000 fans, went home with the points.
Gillingham: Tomas Holy, Luke O’Neill (Elliot List 69), Max Ehmer, Gabriel Zakuani, Bradley Garmston, Mark Byrne, Billy Bingham (Callum Reilly 69), Regan Charles-Cook, Josh Parker, Brandon Hanlan (Bradley Stevenson 84), Tom Eaves
Unused subs: Tom Hadler, Alex Lacey, Barry Fuller, Navid Nasseri.
Sunderland: Jon Mclaughlin, Jack Baldwin, Glenn Loovens, Donald Love (Denver Hume 77), Reece James, Chris Maguire (Dylan McGeouch 68), Lee Cattermole, George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch, Max Power (Luke O’Nein 82) Josh Maja.
Unused subs: Denver Hume, Robbin Ruiter, Elliot Embleton, Alim Ozturk, Bali Mumba.
Attendance 8438 (2087 Away Fans)