Gillingham slip into the relegation on disappointing afternoon.
Title-chasing Barnsley were too good for Gillingham on Saturday afternoon at the Medway Priestfield Stadium with the hosts falling to a heavy 4-1 defeat against the Yorkshire side.
A goal from Kieffer Moore within the first 20 seconds, a brace from Cauley Woodrow and a stoppage time effort from Jacob Brown secured the win for Barnsley despite Elliott List pulling a goal back for Gills ten minutes from time.
Following last week’s dramatic draw against Coventry City, Gills manager Steve Lovell made one change to the starting line-up. Billy King was brought in to make his full debut for the club while another new signing Graham Burke also started for the hosts.
Barnsley were ahead within the first 20 seconds as a ball in from the right wing found McGeehan in space in the centre of the box. Tomas Holy made a superb stop to deny the shot but Moore was on hand to blast home the rebound.
The lead should have been doubled in the fourth minute as Moore burst through on goal but elected to shoot rather than square for Thiam who would have had a tap in and Holy made another great save to keep the Gills in the game.
Despite the Gills getting a foothold in the game, the next chance also came to the Tykes as the referee played on after Mark Byrne appeared to have been fouled allowing McGeehan to take aim from 30 yards, but he sliced his effort after.
Mowatt then had another golden chance for Barnsley as he was slipped in following a counter attack but Holy again stood tall to make a crucial block. As the ball was recycled, a cross came in and was headed back into the danger area and Moore swivelled and shot from close range but his shot thumped against the bar and away to safety.
The Gills had their first chance after 19 minutes as Burke swung in a free-kick that appeared to be a comfortable catch for the keeper. However a collision with his own player allowed the ball to spill free but Brandon Hanlan couldn’t keep his header down with the goal gaping to give the Tykes a let off.
This was quickly followed by another good chance as Connor Ogilvie headed clear allowing Tom Eaves to burst clear but under pressure his stabbed effort was well saved by Davies in the Barnsley goal.
A foul on Byrne on the edge of the area then gave the Gills another good chance to take aim. Burke took responsibility from 25 yards but his powerful effort hit the wall.
Up the other end, Holy had to be alert to make a smart save low down to his right to prevent a snapshot from Moore finding the corner of the net.
A quick thrown in from the Gills then caught the visitors napping and allowed Burke to find a space on the left hand side of the area but his dangerous low cross was blocked behind.
As half-time approached Thiam nearly punished a poor pass from Billy King as he drove towards goal and got his shot off but it was straight at Holy who could make the stop.
The lead was doubled in the 44th minute as a counter attack gave Thiam space to curl in a teasing cross to the back post where Woodrow had too much space to send a looping header over Holy and into the net leaving the Gills a mountain to climb in the second half.
H/T: 0 – 2
The unchanged hosts started brightly to try and get back into the game and nearly got an early goal back as a high ball in the area looked set to bounce to Josh Rees in the area but it was hoiked away just as he looked to pull the trigger.
Barnsley’s first chance of the half came from Brown was made an incisive run behind the back four to meet a drilled ball in but his header floated over the bar.
Just after the hour Barnsley, somehow failed to add their third as Holy and Max Ehmer combined to keep Moore, Thiam and McGeehan out with several superb last ditch tackles flying in.
The Gills fought back with Hanlan and Burke doing well to keep the ball in on the byline before the ball dropped to Byrne but Barnsley got back to make a crucial block.
Holy had been a bright light for Gillingham throughout the game and he made another stop on 70 minutes, just getting enough on Mowatt’s swerving shot to tip it over. However, from the corner a flick on at the near post from Thiam allowed Woodrow to convert clinically at the back post.
That goal had killed the game off but Barnsley continued to press forward in search of more goals as Gaby Zakuani had to be at his best to divert a cross over with Moore lurking.
The Gills were handed a lifeline after 80 minutes when a free-kick from substitute Dean Parrett was only half cleared to Elliott List on the edge of the area and he hammered home a left-footed shot.
Immediately after a nasty collision between Zakuani and Moore forced the former to limp off in crutches leaving the Gills with ten men, while the latter was stretchered off after a lengthy delay with 12 minutes added time indicated by the fourth official.
Gillingham continued to press forward but were struggling to create much with the one-man deficit. Thiam had a decent chance for the Tykes but curled his effort wide of the post, before Brown smashed home off the bar from close range in the final action of the game to add a gloss to the scoreline for Barnsley.
F/T: 1 – 4
The Gills return to the Medway Priestfield Stadium next Saturday as they look to complete the double over Scunthorpe United.
Gillingham: Holy; Fuller, Zakuani (c), Ehmer, Ogilvie (Charles-Cook, 78); Byrne, Rees (Parrett, 64); King (List, 54), Burke, Hanlan; Eaves
Unused subs: Hadler (GK), O’Neill, Reilly, Lopes
Barnsley: Davies; Cavare, Pinnock, Lindsay, Pinillos; Thiam, Mowatt (Dougall, 78), McGeehan, Brown; Moore (Green, 90), Woodrow (Bahre, 72)
Unused subs: Walton (GK), Fryers, Hedges, Adeboyejo
Referee: Mr Trevor Kettle
Attendance: 4,791 (786)