Gills denied a point in the closing stages at Sunderland.
Nathan Broadhead scored in the dying seconds as Sunderland won all three points in 1-0 win against a resilient Gillingham side at the Stadium of Light.
Neil Harris was forced into one change from the side that won at Accrington Stanley as Stuart O’Keefe missed out due to injury. Josh Chambers started in his place as he made his full league debut.
Josh Clarke had the first opportunity of the game after Alex Pritchard’s cross found him inside the penalty area. However, his volley was a tame one and straight at Aaron Chapman.
Danny Batth came close for the hosts in the eighth minute. A corner from the left found its way towards the back of the six-yard box, where Batth managed to make contact. Fortunately for the visitors, the ball fell on the other side of the post.
In the 20th minute, Luke O’Nien had a big opportunity to put Sunderland in front. Clarke curled a ball towards the centre of the box, and O’Nien managed to peel away from his man unmarked. He headed towards the top corner, but it cannoned off the bar before going out for a goal kick.
Charlie Kelman had Gillingham’s first chance of the game in the 23rd minute. A long ball over the top eventually found its way to the forward. He was in acres of space from a tight angle and decided to strike on the half volley. However, it flashed over the bar at Anthony Patterson’s near post.
In the 26th minute, Patrick Roberts was the next man to try his luck for the hosts. He managed to get towards the penalty area before shooting across the goal. Chapman did well to get a solid palm to it as he pushed it away from danger.
As the half was coming to a close, it became a scrappy affair. Gills were given three yellow cards in the space of three minutes as Olly Lee, David Tutonda and Chambers all went into the referee's book.
HALF-TIME: Sunderland 0-0 Gillingham
Pritchard had the first chance of note in the second half. He was given space 20 yards from goal, and he decided to curl a shot towards the top corner. However, it sailed over the crossbar.
Sunderland thought they had taken the lead on the hour as the ball hit the post. Pritchard’s corner was headed towards the goal and took a bounce off a Gillingham player and then onto the woodwork. The second bounce again came off a Gills man but went out for another corner.
Dennis Cirkin forced Chapman into a save in the 67th minute. The ball eventually fell to the Sunderland man, who tried his luck with a strong effort from 20 yards. However, the Gills keeper stood tall and caught the shot.
Corry Evans had a big chance for the hosts with a little over ten minutes remaining. Sunderland caught Gills on the counter, and the ball was pulled back to Evans. He tried to find the top corner, but it went just over the bar with Chapman seemingly confident the ball was missing the target.
In the final seconds of the game, Nathan Broadhead headed home the winner. A ball towards the back post found the forward in space, having edged away from his marker, and he gained sufficient space to win a header and guide it beyond Chapman.
FULL-TIME: Sunderland 1-0 Gillingham
Sunderland: Patterson, Evans, Batth, O’Nien (Embleton 68’), Stewart, Winchester (Gooch 68’), Cirkin, Pritchard (Broadhead 69’), Clarke, Wright, Roberts
Unused Substitutes: Hoffmann, Xhemajli, Neil, Matete
Gillingham: Chapman, Jackson, Tucker, Ehmer, Masterson, Tutonda, Lee, Thompson, Chambers (Reeves 72’), Kelman (Akehurst 90’), Oliver
Unused Substitutes: Dahlberg, Maghoma, Dickson-Peters
Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 31,619 (399)