Gills bounce back from midweek disappointment to smash rock-bottom Bantams at Priestfield.
A stunning second half performance from the Gills saw them dismantle Bradford City four-nil on Saturday afternoon at the Medway Priestfield Stadium.
After a goalless first period which Bradford had the better of, the Gills came roaring out in the second half to cut their opponents to shreds. Regan Charles-Cook set Gillingham on their way on his return from injury as he struck a superb opener cutting on to his right foot before blasting past the keeper.
Tom Eaves missed a penalty soon after but made amends with a wonderful touch and finish following a driving run into the area. Elliott List added a third after battling well in the box and placing past O’Donnell before Eaves finished the scoring with a close-range header in the final minute of normal time.
Gillingham Manager Steve Lovell made four changes from the side that slumped to defeat at Plymouth. Brandon Hanlan and Charles-Cook both made their returns from injury to start while Billy Bingham was also fit enough to return to the starting XI.
Gills youngster Darren Oldaker also made his first League start of the season assuming the holding role in the diamond formation. Dean Parrett also returned to the match-day squad with Noel Mbo also on the substitute’s bench.
The visitors had a golden chance to open the scoring within two minutes as a ball was threaded through the Gills defence finding O’Brien and Tomas Holy got enough on his fierce shot to allow Luke O’Neill to hack clear off the line.
Bingham had the first shot for the home side when he received the ball in space 30 yards from goal and with little else on curled towards the top corner but O’Donnell got across his line to make a simple save.
A neat move from Bradford engineered a shooting opportunity for Payne but he dragged his shot well wide from the top of the area.
The Bantams were passing the ball around nicely using the full width of the pitch and nearly capitalised on a mistake by Holy who came for a deflected cross which he couldn’t quite reach but O’Neill was again well placed to smash away from danger.
After a quarter an hour a slick move from the Gills created space for O’Neill at the top of the box and he blasted across goal finding Tom Eaves but the striker was unable to control or flick on the ball and it rebounded off him and behind for a goal-kick.
Using the flanks, Bradford were having the better of the opening exchanges and another cross delivered into the Gills box was intercepted by Gaby Zakuani and, much to the skipper’s relief, flew wide of the goal.
A Hanlan snap-shot that flew well wide of goal was the closest the Gills got in response after the first twenty minutes.
With the game entering a cagey period, the Gills were the only team to threaten before the interval as a cross was only half cleared but bounced up awkwardly for Byrne and he could only volley over.
After 33 minutes the Bantams should have taken the lead as Payne was given too much space on the area and Holy did fantastically well to re-adjust following a deflection in the box. The ball was recycled and a ball across the area should have been tucked home but Doyle get his legs mixed up and the chance was missed.
The Gills were living dangerously as former captain Wright should have scored as a free-kick found him totally unmarked in the box but he planted his header straight at Holy.
Up the other end an O’Neill cross from the right found its way to Hanlan in the area and on the spin he volleyed just wide with the ball bouncing up around his shoulders.
The visitors thought they were ahead after 28 minutes when Akpan got up brilliantly to win a header from a corner and Ball nodded home at the far post but was denied by the linesman’s flag.
Eaves had a good chance to put the Gills in front as he got up well to meet a cross Bingham had stood up into the middle of the area but under pressure he could only head over.
Bradford were knocking on the door and Payne had a great chance when Oldaker lost the ball in midfield but his shot was hammered inches wide of the post from 15 yards out with Holy beaten.
With seconds before the break, the Gills had their best chance as a free-kick in caused troubled and bounced to Ehmer but his shot was somehow deflected just wide of the post.
H/T: 0 – 0
Two minutes into the second half the Gills were in front. Patient build-up play gave REGAN CHARLES-COOK the space to drive at the defence before cutting onto his right foot and powering his shot past the keeper and into the top right corner.
The Bantams immediately looked to get back on-terms with Wright winning a tussle with Ehmer to get a shot away but from a tight angle Holy made the save.
The home side were now very much on the front foot as they looked to put the game to bed. Eaves had a chance as an Ehmer header fell to him on the box but a Bradford defender got back to block it behind for a corner.
Charles-Cook was certainly looking lively for the Gills and he did well to win a free-kick just outside the box following a driving run before cleverly drawing the foul. O’Neill took responsibility and curled over the wall which was deflected over but by a hand according to the referee who pointed to the spot.
Eaves stepped up to take the penalty and placed it low to the keeper's left, but O’Donnell got down well to push the ball to safety to keep Bradford in the game.
The big striker made amends moments later as a long ball smashed forward by Oldaker was brilliantly controlled by TOM EAVES with his first touch, before driving forward and smashing a left-footed shot beyond O’Donnell.
Gillingham put a third past Bradford after 69 minutes as substitute ELLIOTT LIST did superbly well battling in the box to keep the ball before placing a shot past O’Donnell.
The Gills were full of confidence and List went close to extending the list further as he used his pace to scoot by a Bradford defender but this shot across goal was just past the post.
Eaves should have put a fourth on the score sheet as List did brilliantly to beat his man and pull the ball but Eaves on the stretch could only divert his shot against the underside of the bar and away.
Seedorf, a Bantams sub, then did brilliantly to beat his man but Holy got enough on his save to allow Barry Fuller to track back and make the clearance.
List then put in another great cross for Eaves but his diving header was inches wide of the goal with less than five minutes to go.
Finally TOM EAVES did get his second of the game, when substitute Dean Parrett drove forward before slipping in Fuller who stood up a cross to the back-post with the Gills’ top scorer nodding home to secure a handsome victory for the Gills.
F/T: 4 – 0
Gillingham have four more games in a row at the Medway Priestfield Stadium, starting with Joey Barton’s Fleetwood making the long journey South next weekend for a Sky Bet League One fixture.
Gillingham: Holy, O’Neill, Zakuani, Ehmer, Fuller; Oldaker, Byrne, Bingham (Parrett, 81), Charles-Cook (Nasseri, 73); Eaves, Hanlan (List, 65)
Unused subs: Hadler (GK), Ogilvie, Lacey, Mbo
Bradford City: O’Donnell; Wood, Knight-Percival, O’Connor, Isherwood (Brunker, 71); O’Brien, Wright, Akpan; Ball (Gibson, 84), Doyle (Seedorf, 79), Payne
Unused subs: Sykes-Kenworthy (GK), Staunton, Goldthorp, Maltby
Referee: Mr Lee Collins
Attendance: 4,399 (256)