Mark Byrne dismissed as Gillingham fall to defeat at Colchester.
Gillingham’s first-team finished their pre-season with a disappointing 5-1 defeat against Colchester United at the JobServe Community Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Colchester found themselves two up inside the opening quarter of an hour with Sammie Szmodics and Aaron Collins giving the Essex club a commanding lead in the early stages. A third soon followed before Mark Byrne was dismissed for violent conduct just moments before the interval.
Dean Parrett pulled one back before the whistle went for the half-time interval, but Colchester used their extra man well and added two more goals in the second half.
Steve Lovell had a few forwards missing for the game so the responsibility of leading the line fell to Josh Parker and Brandon Hanlan.
Callum Reilly, Byrne and Parrett were the men supporting from midfield with Luke O’Neill and Bradley Garmston operating as wing-backs.
The Colchester squad featured a few familiar names with Brennan Dickenson, Ryan Jackson and Frank Nouble named in the 22.
It took less than five minutes for the opening goal to be scored and it went to the hosts. Ehmer had burst forward and failed to connect with a shot cleanly. With him out of position Colchester seized their chance to break and Mikael Mandron did well to find Szmodics who held his run and on receiving the ball 12 yards out he buried his effort beyond Holy.
Gills seemed a touch rattled by the early goal and on 14 minutes Colchester were close to grabbing a second. A corner from Dickenson was only half cleared; Frankie Kent picked up the pieces and spotted Mandron in space who fired an effort narrowly over.
However that proved irrelevant as seconds later the hosts did get a second. Szmodics, who was causing a lot of trouble early on, got inside the box and the Gills defence raced across to try and slow his progress. In doing so Collins had space, called for the ball and on receiving it simply tapped home.
Lovell’s men took a while to work their way into the game, but a tactical change, which saw Lacey move into a defensive midfield role, appeared to work as Parker soon had Gills first shot on target which was comfortably saved by Dillon Barnes on 28 minutes.
Just as Gillingham looked like causing a few problems Colchester bagged a third. A short pass to Mandron set the midfielder on his way. He skipped past Lacey, stayed on his feet following contact and produced an excellent left footed finish inside the box to beat the oncoming Holy.
On 34 minutes Gills had possibly their best chance to pull one back when O’Neill’s free kick on the left side was aimed towards Zakuani; the defender was up quickly and got a header away but fired it half a yard wide of the right hand post.
Reilly sent a left footed curling effort high and wide of the target before a moment of controversy ensured Gills played with ten men for the rest of the game. Byrne attempted to chase a loose ball down the right side and he felt obstructed by Prosser.
The defender got back to his feet and feeling he had been kicked or stamped retaliated. The referee consulted with his linesman, following a huge scrap between both sets of players, and sent Byrne off with Prosser receiving a yellow.
With the half about to finish Parrett produced a great finish from range to beat Barnes; the goal greeted by absolute silence with many thinking it had struck the side netting. The goal stood, the score was 3-1 at the interval.
Regan Charles-Cook was introduced at the break but unfortunately for Gills the lead increased rather than reduced. Mandron bagged his second on 57 minutes when, from range, he picked his spot from over 20 yards and rifled home an excellent shot which surprised Holy but there was nothing he could do.
The Colchester attacks kept on coming and their numerical advantage was increasingly obvious and they grabbed a fifth just after the hour. A cross from the right was aimed over the head of Holy; he didn’t make contact and Eastman slid in at the back post with a header which, although the keeper, scooped away, the ball had already crossed the line.
Gills had a half chance to reduce the deficit on 72 minutes when Nasseri’s corner was headed narrowly wide by Josh Parker. Colchester kept attacking but were comfortable in declaring at five. A Ryan Jackson shot, punched away by Holy, was the closest they came to adding a sixth.
Colchester XI: Barnes, Lapslie, Prosser, Kent, Szmodics, Dickenson, Comley, Eastman, Mandron, Vincent-Young, Collins.
Gills: Holy, O'Neill (Fuller 68), Ehmer, Zakuani (Charles-Cook 46), Lacey, Garmston, Byrne, Parrett (Bingham 64), Reilly (Nasseri 54), Parker, Hanlan (Nash 64).
Unused subs: Hadler
Referee: Mr C Brook