Gills produce excellent second half display at Home Park, but Plymouth dig in to secure narrow victory.
Luke Jephcott’s first-half goal was enough to give Plymouth all three points as a dominant second-half display from the Gills went unrewarded at Home Park.
Jephcott scored in the 33rd minute as he was found unmarked from a Conor Grant cross. He got the ball under control before half volleying into the bottom right corner and beating Jack Bonham.
Gills had two huge chances in the second half with the first coming through Connor Ogilvie. A free-kick towards the six-yard box found him unmarked, but he headed over the crossbar as a guilt-edged chance went begging.
Deep into stoppage time, a Tom O’Connor free-kick was destined for the top corner, but an oncoming Matty Willock was unable to get out of the way and flicked the ball over the crossbar from close range.
Jordan Graham returned to the starting eleven for the first time since the FA Cup defeat to Exeter City as Steve Evans made three changes to the side that lost to Northampton in midweek.
Declan Drysdale and Vadaine Oliver also came into the starting eleven as Jack Tucker, Alex MacDonald and John Akinde all dropped to the bench.
The Gills started brightly and came close in the opening stages of the game. They worked their way into the penalty area, and a Plymouth clearance was blocked by Kyle Dempsey. The ball could have gone anywhere but fortunately for the hosts, it went wide of the right post.
Will Aimson had a good chance in the sixth minute, but he failed to get his back post diving header on target.
Vadaine Oliver was next to go close and almost gave Gillingham the lead in the 15th minute. Tom O’Connor put a curled cross towards the front post, and Oliver beat Michael Cooper to the ball but headed over the crossbar.
Danny Mayor tried his luck from just inside the penalty area shortly after, but his cheeky dink went over the crossbar.
In the 24th minute, it took a massive Connor Ogilvie tackle to stop Plymouth from taking the lead. Ryan Hardie did well to play Mayor in on goal, but Ogilvie came in with a pitch-perfect tackle to take it off his toes, and it allowed Gills to clear their lines.
Dempsey had a good chance after the half-hour mark, but his curling shot from 20 yards out went over the crossbar with Cooper well placed to make a save if needed.
In the 33rd minute, Luke Jephcott gave Plymouth the lead. Conor Grant put in a cross towards the back post unchallenged, and Jephcott was unmarked inside the penalty area before putting the ball past Jack Bonham and into the back of the net.
Grant himself tested Bonham just before half-time. He tried his luck from just outside the penalty area, and it was straight at the Gills keeper who claimed the ball at the second attempt.
HALF-TIME: Plymouth Aryle 1-0 Gillingham
Jephcott came close to scoring in the early moments of the second half.
A ball towards the back post was met by Jephcott, and it forced Bonham into a save. Following a couple of ricochets, the Gills keeper reclaimed the ball well.
It took another brilliant Ogilvie sliding tackle to stop Plymouth from having another chance.
Mayor tried to slip Panutche Camara in on goal, and the oncoming Ogilvie read the danger and managed to intercept and slide the ball out for a corner.
Ogilvie had a golden chance himself in the 55th minute. A free-kick towards the six-yard box was met by the unmarked defender, but from close range, his powerful header narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Moments later, Jordan Graham whipped a brilliant cross just in front of goal. Unfortunately, no one was able to meet it with Cooper caught in no mans land.
The Gills almost had an equaliser from a Tom O’Connor corner. His curling cross towards the back post was missed by Cooper, and it flicked off Kell Watts and went inches wide of the net.
Graham continued to cause huge problems and his cross towards Oliver at the back post clipped the crossbar and went out for a corner. However, it came to nothing.
In stoppage time O’Connor did really well to turn out of danger before shaping up to shoot from distance, but it cleared the crossbar.
Even later into stoppage time, O’Connor whipped in a free-kick towards goal. It appeared to be going towards the top corner, but Matty Willock was unable to duck out of the way in time, and he flicked it over the bar.
FULL-TIME: Plymouth Argyle 1-0 Gillingham
Plymouth Argyle: Cooper, Aimson, Canavan, Watts, Edwards, Grant (Opoku 70’), Macleod (Fornah 37’), Camara, Mayor, Hardie (Telford 77’), Jephcott (Nouble 77’)
Unused Subs: McCormick, Wooton, Moore
Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, Drysdale, Ogilvie, O'Connor, Eccles (Akinde 53’), Robertson (MacDonald 52’), McKenzie (Willock 80), Dempsey, Graham, Oliver
Unused Substitutes: Maghoma, Tucker, Coyle
Referee: Mr S Allison