Plymouth Argyle seal victory over Gills.
A late Luke O’Neill goal was not enough as Plymouth swept aside Gillingham on Tuesday evening to clinch a 3-1 victory at Home Park.
Two first-half goals from Freddie Ladapo followed by a Ruben Lameiras strike were enough to see Plymouth record only their second victory of the season, with O’Neill’s driven effort proving to be only a consolation for Gills, on a disappointing evening in Devon.
Gillingham made three changes from the side that drew 3-3 with Doncaster on Saturday. In came Josh Rees, Elliott List & Conor Wilkinson as Steve Lovell looked to freshen up his side for the trip to Plymouth. Argyle made five changes to the starting XI, with three changes to the defence that conceded three to Burton on Saturday.
The first chance of the game went the way of the hosts. Following a through ball down the right, Graham Carey tried to catch Tomas Holy out at his near post but saw his low effort saved by the keeper.
The hosts had started brightly and were enjoying the vast majority of the opening possession. Carey again was denied soon after, with Holy this time collecting comfortably following good work from the Argyle number 10.
Gills’ first chance of the game fell the way of Tom Eaves. The forward saw his looping header tipped over by Matt Macey in the Plymouth goal following good work from O’Neill down the Gills right hand side.
It was the hosts who opened the scoring at Home Park after 20 minutes when Freddie Ladapo finished off a fine move firing in to the top corner. The former Margate forward struck past Holy from the edge of the box to give Gills a mountain to climb.
The hosts were to double their lead just 15 minutes later as Ladapo got his second of the game. Conor Grant found himself in acres of space down the left-hand side before picking out Ladapo who finished low in to the bottom corner as Argyle’s dominance was beginning to show.
Elliott List came close to pulling a goal back just before the half-time whistle when, following neat build up down the left from Reilly, he struck just over the bar from the edge of the box.
Steve Lovell made a change at the break, Bradley Garmston coming on in place of Callum Reilly with Gills switching to a three at the back and it was the Gills who started the second half positively; Eaves firing just over when off balance, following a Max Ehmer flick on.
The visitors were soon on the front foot again though, Graham Carey again seeing his low effort palmed away by Tomas Holy before Gabriel Zakuani mopped up, as the Gills tried to stay in the game.
After 56 minutes it could, and perhaps should have been, game over as Antoni Sarcevic went through on goal, but the forward could only shoot past the post.
As the game was beginning to open up, both sides were looking dangerous. The three at the back for Gills was allowing more space for Garmston and O’Neill, although the end ball was letting Lovell's men down as they went in search of a way back in to the game.
Steve Lovell’s next change saw Navid Nasseri introduced and the midfielder almost made an immediate impact, showing good feet before being denied by Macey in the Argyle goal.
After 72 minutes the game was put to bed when Ruben Lameiras, who had just been introduced to the action, slotted past Holy in the Gills goal. Despite a last-ditch attempt from Max Ehmer the ball crossed the line to give the hosts an unassailable lead.
There was an immediate response though, Gills pegged a goal back just minutes later. A Bradley Garmston free-kick was cleared only as far as Luke O’Neill at the edge of the box, and the right-back lashed home in front of the away fans.
On 80 minutes Ladapo, who had been a threat all night for the visiting defence, was again denied by Holy, the forward doing well initially before seeing his effort saved by the Czech stopper. At the other end, Billy Bingham sliced wide from 30 yards as the game drifted away from Steve Lovell’s men.
That was to be the last real chance of note as Gills struggled to sustain pressure in the last ten minutes while Plymouth were happy to see the game out as they sealed victory.
All in all, a disappointing evening for Gills who left themselves with too much to do following the early Ladapo double. Gills will hope for better on Saturday when Bradford City visit the Medway Priestfield Stadium.
Plymouth: Matt Macey, Tafari Moore, Yann Songo’o, Niall Canavan, Conor Grant, Jamie Ness, David Fox (Stuart O’Keefe 80’), Antoni Sarcevic, Graham Carey (Ruben Lameiras71’), Jorge Grant, Freddie Ladapo (Luke Jephcott 90’)
Unused Subs: Greg Wylde, Ashley Smith-Brown, Kyle Letheren.
Gillingham: Tomas Holy, Luke O’Neill, Gabriel Zakuani, Max Ehmer, Barry Fuller, Josh Rees, Callum Reilly (Bradley Garmston 45’), Mark Byrne, Elliot List, Tom Eaves, Conor Wilkinson (Navid Nasseri 69’)
Unused Subs: Tom Hadler, Connor Ogilvie, Alex Lacey, Josh Parker.
Attendance 8754 (254)