Lee Johnson's Sunderland come from behind to win at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
Sunderland came back from one goal down to win 2-1 and take maximum points from MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Goals either side of half-time from Aiden O’Brien and Tom Flanagan sealed a Sunderland comeback after falling 1-0 behind midway through the first half when Danny Lloyd slotted home his penalty.
Gillingham started the better of the two sides and nearly found themselves in front with just six minutes on the clock when Jack Tucker, who was operating in a holding midfield role, hit a volley from 20 yards out, forcing a superb stop from Sunderland stopper Hoffman.
Gills went close again when Ryan Jackson, who was back in the side following absence through injury, found Vadaine Oliver in the box with a tremendous cross, however the forward could only head over the bar.
The home side's pressure paid off in the 25th minute when Stuart O’Keefe pounced onto a loose ball in the opposition box before being met by a late challenge. It was then left to Danny Lloyd to slot away the kick, and he made no mistake, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Steve Evans’ side's brilliant first half performance was cancelled out on the stroke of half-time as Daniel Neil’s dangerous cross was met by Aiden O’Brien who got the better of Max Ehmer to make sure the teams went into the interval all level.
Half-time: Gillingham 1-1 Sunderland
Following the break Lee Johnson’s side went in search for a second goal, and were rewarded in the 54th minute when Alex Pritchard’s deep cross was crashed home with a towering header from former Gills centre-back, Tom Flanagan.
Jack Tucker was involved once again in the 67th minute when he was on the receiving end of a late challenge from Elliot Embleton who was shown a straight red card.
The Gills stepped up their chase for an equaliser following Embleton’s dismissal and nearly found their way through in the 83rd minute when captain, Kyle Dempsey, skipped past two defenders on the left hand side before finding second half substitute, Charlie Kelman, in the box, who could only see his effort deflected out for a corner.
The hosts thought they had their goal yet again in the 87th minute when Max Ehmer’s cross field ball was met by the head of Robbie McKenzie whose powerful header looked to be destined for the top corner, only to see goalkeeper Hoffman acrobatically claw his effort behind for a corner.
John Akinde thought he had a penalty in the dying stages, but appeals were waved away. Vadaine Oliver also hit the top of the bar following a header inside the penalty area.
Ultimately, Sunderland saw the game out to clinch all three points.
Full-time: Gillingham 1-2 Sunderland
Gillingham: Cumming, Jackson, McKenzie. Ehmer (Sithole 90), Tucker, Bennett (Kelman 81), O'Keefe, Dempsey, Carayol (Akinde 61), Lloyd, Oliver.
Unused subs: Chapman, Adshead, Lee, Reeves.
Sunderland: Hoffmann, Flanagan, Doyle, Embleton, O'Brien (Harris 90), O'Nien, Stewart, Winchester, Cirkin, Pritchard (Wright 71), Neil.
Unused subs: Burge, Younger, Hume, Sohna, Wearne.
Referee: Lee Swabey
Attendance: 6310 (1969)