High-flying Luton win at Priestfield.
Gillingham were comfortably beaten 3-1 by Luton Town on Saturday at the Medway Priestfield Stadium in a disappointing afternoon for the hosts.
The Hatters took a lead into the break with Shinnie firing home from the edge of the box. Two quickfire goals from Lee in the second half put the game beyond the Gills although Tom Eaves did grab a consolation firing home a great effort from inside the area.
Gillingham Manager Steve Lovell made three changes from the side that triumphed in Hartlepool on Wednesday night with Dean Parrett, Josh Rees and goalscorer Elliott List all coming into the team. Callum Reilly was fit enough to join the matchday squad and Josh Parker also made the substitutes bench after returning from international duty.
The Hatters had the first opportunity of the game through Lee who twisted and turned inside the box after five minutes, but Tomas Holy dealt with his shot comfortably.
Soon after the Gills had their first opportunity with List slipping in Tom Eaves down the left hand side and the league’s top scorer cut in on his right foot but placed his shot wide from the edge of the box.
Just before the quarter of an hour mark, Luton had another half chance as a good corner was swung in, but in amongst a sea of bodies the header was just wide.
A long throw in from Mark Byrne gave the Gills a sight of goal but Josh Rees’ header bounced wide as he tried to generate enough power from Max Ehmer’s flick on to trouble the keeper.
The visitors took the lead after 24 minutes as a slick team move ended with a first time lay off from ex Gills loanee Cornick to Shinnie who blasted past Holy from the edge of the box.
The visitors had their tails up after the early goal and went close again as Barry Fuller headed a cross clear but only to two Hatters on the top of the box. Shinnie missed the ball completely before Rea’s shot sailed into the Rainham End.
The visitors did think they had doubled their lead with Lee heading in at the far post but the referee saw a push on Fuller at the far post and blew for a foul.
On the 40 minute mark, the Gills had their next chance as a diagonal free-kick found Eaves and his header nearly bounced for List in the box but Bradley managed to hack clear.
The Gills started the second half on the offensive with Eaves unleashing List down the right but his cross was blocked with players lining up in the middle.
However, the lead was doubled soon after as a low cross in from Collins was diverted home from close range by Lee giving Holy no chance,
Gillingham looked to get back into the game with Billy Bingham showing nice skill on the edge of the box before chipping a ball towards Byrne but on the stretch the midfielder wasn’t able to get enough power on the ball to trouble the keeper.
Steve Lovell made a triple substitution on the hour with Darren Oldaker, Josh Parker and Bradley Garmston all coming on to try and change the course of the game.
The changes certainly livened up the Gills with Garmston displaying his pace to win a corner with a great run down the left before Byrne had space on the edge of the box but blazed over.
Luton grabbed their third of the game following a great counter attack. A Gills free-kick was headed clear and Cornick broke clear of Oldaker and Luke O’Neill with great pace but saw his shot rebound off the post in the path of Lee who made no mistake to get his second of the game.
The Gills were soon back in the game as a throw in was worked into the box and TOM EAVES managed to control the ball before firing a low volley across the keeper and into the net.
That goal brought the game to life with Gills seeing claims for a penalty turned down as the ball bounced awkwardly in the area with Parker looking to pounce.
A great run from Oldaker then won the Gills a free-kick right on the edge of the area after a swift turned saw him beat two Luton markers. O’Neill took the set piece after a long delay but Shea managed to gather the ball comfortable.
A cross from Garmston then bounced up again but for a second time the referee waved away handball appeals for a penalty.
Gills continued to press the Hatters with Oldaker shooting from the edge of the box after a Ehmer played a short corner. Parker then won a ball on 18 yards, guiding it into List’s path but his volley ballooned over.
Garmston had been a menace down the left hand side and another good cross was met by Eaves but under severe pressure he couldn’t keep his header down.
Luton were able to see out the remaining minutes however to claim all three points.
F/T: 1 – 3
Gillingham travel to the Memorial Stadium on Tuesday night to take on Bristol Rovers in search of a second consecutive win on the road.
Gillingham: Holy, O’Neill, Zakuani, Ehmer, Fuller; Parrett (Oldaker, 60), Bingham (Garmston, 61), Byrne, Rees (Parker, 60); Eaves, List
Unused subs: Hadler (GK), Ogilvie, Reilly, Mbo
Luton Town: Shea, Justin, Bradley, Pearson, Stacey; Rea, Mpanzu, Shinnie (Sheehan, 68), Cornick (Jarvis, 83); Collins, Lee (Jones, 90)
Unused subs: Stech (GK), Potts, McCormack, Grant
Referee: Mr Kevin Johnson
Attendance: 5,671 (1,282)