Josh Parker's second half strike not enough as Gills suffer narrow defeat in South Yorkshire.
A spirited second half display, capped by a Josh Parker goal, was not enough for Gillingham as a Kieffer Moore double helped Barnsley to a 2-1 win at Oakwell on Saturday.
Barnsley stormed out of the blocks in the first half and could have been out of sight, but following Parker’s second goal of the season, Gills came almightily close to snatching, what looked at one point, an unlikely point with Reilly, Parker and Ehmer all coming close.
Gillingham made three changes from the side that started against Coventry City last week, in came Callum Reilly, Barry Fuller & Elliott List, who replaced Luke O’Neill and injured duo Mark Byrne & Regan Charles-Cook.
Barnsley kept faith with the same eleven that drew at Scunthorpe a week ago.
The first chance of the game fell to hosts. Following build up down the right-hand side George Moncur curled an effort wide as Barnsley made a bright start in the Yorkshire sunshine. It was one-way traffic at Oakwell as firstly, Mamadou Thiam shot wide before Alex Mowatt fired over.
In the 13th minute the pressure was to take its toll as Moore gave the home side the lead. Following neat build up, the striker found himself free on the right-hand side, took his shot early and fired in to the bottom corner to put the Gills behind.
The home side nearly doubled their lead just minutes later as following a quick break away down the left-hand side, Moncur saw his shot saved by Tomas Holy, a chance he will feel he should have done better with. The home side continued to come forward with both Mowatt and Brad Potts shooting wide.
Gills’ first chance fell the way of Brandon Hanlan. After a free-kick was launched forward, pinball ensued in the box before finally dropping for the forward. On the swivel, he connected cleanly, but his shot fell the wrong side of the post.
The Tykes were to double their lead ten minutes before the interval. Referee John Busby adjudged Elliott List to have fouled Daniel Pinillos, much to the shock of everyone in the ground. Moore stepped up and fired under Holy to give the Gills a mountain to climb.
It very nearly got worse for Gills as Pinillos again was involved, this time the full-back unleashed a powerful drive from 30 yards, but Holy matched the effort and palmed over for a corner.
From that, Gills were forced in to an early change. Gabriel Zakuani fell awkwardly after a tussle with an attacker and limped off holding his shoulder. Alex Lacey, the man who replaced him, was making his first appearance in the league this season.
As the fourth official indicated four minutes of added time, Gills went in search of a way back into the game. Following good work down the left, firstly by Garmston and then by Hanlan, Tom Eaves slid in at the back post – but just as it looked as if Gills may have something for their first half efforts, the linesman’s flag was raised to stop the celebrations.
Neither side made changes at the break as Gills looked for a way back. The only shot of action of note in the first few minutes after the break was an Alex Mowatt free-kick, although Holy wasn't troubled.
As the visitors went in search of a way back in to the game, they were left vulnerable at the back, but both Callum Reilly and Alex Lacey both did brilliantly to deny Moore a hat-trick; throwing themselves in front of the ball, before Garmston cleared off the line, to keep the Gills in the game.
On 56 minutes Gills made their second change. Josh Rees, coming on for his competitive debut, replaced List.
Lovell's men very nearly got back in to the game following a mix up at the back; Eaves latched onto the ball and unleashed a powerful dipping volley. Unfortunately for Gills, the effort was turned over by Adam Davies in the Barnsley goal.
From the resulting corner, Gills were to get a lifeline. A ball in from Bingham was flicked on by Max Ehmer and following a scramble in the box, Josh Parker poked home to give the Gills half an hour to try and find an equaliser.
Following the goal the home side begun to sit deeper while looking for options on the break, Moore - who had been a threat all game for the home side, was to come close twice in the space of a couple of minutes, firstly he headed wide from a corner before a powerful effort had to be tipped over by Holy in the Gills goal.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, Gills pushed for a leveller. Firstly, strong penalty appeals were waved away by the referee, before a superb ball in from Josh Rees was headed agonisingly over by Reilly; the midfielder just having to stretch too far to control the effort.
The home fans were growing nervous and Gills came close again, this time Billy Bingham’s corner found its way to Max Ehmer at the back-post, the centre back touched and volleyed it goalward, but again, it failed to hit the target.
Gills’ final chance fell the way of Parker, but after an impressive touch the forward fired an effort narrowly beyond the post.
Gills were second best for the first 60 minutes but put the home side under an enormous amount of pressure in the last half an hour. A couple of chances fell the wrong side of the post from a Gillingham perspective but the damage was done in the first half, as they headed back to Kent pointless.
Barnsley: Adam Davies, Dimitri Cavare, Ethan Pinnock, Liam Lindsay, Dani Pinillos, Brad Potts, Kenny Dougall, Alex Mowatt, Mamadou Thiam (Jacob Brown 81), Kieffer Moore, George Moncur (Cameron McGeehan 74)
Subs: Jack Walton, Cameron McGeehan, Llyod Isgrove, Adam Jackson, Jordan Williams, Victor Adeboyejo, Jacob Brown.
Gillingham; Tomas Holy, Bradley Garmston, Max Ehmer, Gabriel Zakuani (Alex Lacey 40), Barry Fuller, Callum Reilly, Josh Parker, Elliot List (Josh Rees 56), Billy Bingham, Brandon Hanlan (Conor Wilkinson 67), Tom Eaves.
Subs: Luke O’Neill, Navid Nasseri, , Bradley Stevenson, Tom Hadler
Referee: Mr J Busby
Attendance: 11434 (259)