Accrington claim victory in Kent.
Goals in either half condemned Gillingham to defeat at home to Accrington Stanley in Sky Bet League One on Tuesday evening.
After falling behind to a Colby Bishop header in the opening period, Steve Evans’ side paid the price for missing a number of big opportunities in the second half before being punished by Dion Charles as it ended 0-2.
Gillingham made three changes from the side that lost at Doncaster Rovers on Saturday with Tommy O’Connor, Alex MacDonald and John Akinde all dropping to the bench.
Jacob Mellis started for the first time since October while the two Coventry loanees, Josh Eccles and Declan Drysdale, both came into the starting XI.
Shooting towards the Rainham End, it was the visitors who threatened first with a Joe Pritchard volley testing Jack Bonham in the Gills goal, luckily the Gills stopper was behind the effort easily and caught the ball without too much trouble.
Steve Evans opted to go for wing-backs with Robbie McKenzie slotting in at centre-back alongside Jack Tucker and Drysdale. The back three enabled Connor Ogilvie and Ryan Jackson to play higher up.
Gillingham were forced into an early change after just 20 minutes. Dominic Samuel appeared to turn awkwardly as he tried to pounce on to a loose ball and appeared in agony. Samuel was stretchered off and replaced by John Akinde.
After a stop-start opening 20 minutes, Gillingham had a good chance to take the lead, but following a long throw in to the box, Vadaine Oliver’s acrobatic effort was struck sweetly, but went over the bar.
It was a tight affair in ME7 with very little separating the two sides. Kyle Dempsey was once again impressing in the centre of midfield, often being heavily involved in attacking moves.
Out of nothing, Accrington Stanley took the lead in the 44th minute. An inswinging corner was headed in from Colby Bishop from six yards out to leave Bonham with no chance. It was a bullet header from the Stanley man and the final action of the opening half. 0-1.
There was another change for the Gills at half time with Tommy O’Connor replacing Jacob Mellis in midfield. It was a much brighter start in the second half and Oliver again came close, but this time the forward dragged his effort wide of the post.
Gills were certainly on top and came within inches of a spectacular equaliser. The ball dropped kindly to Tommy O’Connor on the edge of the box and the on-loan Southampton man hit a rasping volley that went narrowly past the post.
Accrington were under the pump and were camped inside their own half and Steve Evans’ side really should have drawn level, and deserved to do so, but Akinde was the next man to be denied, this time Nathan Baxter in the Stanley goal made an impressive save from close range.
So it was a tough pill to swallow when Accrington doubled their lead just after the hour mark. After dealing with the initial phase Stanley recycled possession well before playing the ball across to Dion Charles who made no mistake from close range. 0-2.
The goal didn’t seem to stop the press from the Gills and some more territory and corners came and went as it looked like being ‘one of those nights’ under the lights.
Both Robertson and Drysdale both shot over the bar as time started to run down before the referee blew to an end the proceedings.
Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, Ogilvie, Tucker, Dempsey, Samuel (Akinde 21), McKenzie (MacDonald 76), Eccles, Mellis (O’Connor 45), Oliver (Robertson 76), Drysdale.
Unused subs: Walsh, Medley, Woods
Accrington Stanley: Baxter, Nottingham, Hughes, Burgess, Butcher, Pritchard, McConville, Rodgers, McConville, Rodgers, Bishop, Conneely, Charles.
Unused subs: Savin, Russell, Cassidy, Wake, Barclay, Sama, Fenlon.