Gills secure their third win in the space of a week after defeating Accrington at ME7.
Ashley Nadesan scored the only goal of the game as Gillingham beat Accrington Stanley 1-0 at the Priestfield Stadium.
Gills controlled the game throughout and made the breakthrough in the 29th minute. Tom Nichols did well to play a defence-splitting pass for Nadesan, who latched onto the through ball inside the penalty area. He was one-on-one with Toby Savin, who came off his line before Nadesan poked it beyond the Accrington goalkeeper.
Neil Harris made six changes to the side that beat Southampton in the Carabao Cup in midweek. Jake Turner, Scott Malone, Shaun Williams, Jonny Williams and Tom Nichols returned to the starting XI. Tim Dieng made his first appearance of the season, having missed the opening two fixtures through injury.
Macauley Bonne was named among the substitutes after signing for the club on Friday. Conor Masterson featured on the bench for the first time this season, having missed the opening couple of fixtures through injury.
Nichols had a great opportunity in the ninth minute. A poor back pass was played to Toby Savin, allowing Nichols to latch onto the loose ball. Savin came out to try and close the angle, and the Gillingham striker took it around the goalkeeper. Nichols had to dive out of the way to avoid the Accrington Stanley goalkeeper’s challenge, meaning the ball trickled out of play for a goal-kick.
The visitors had a half-chance in the 16th minute. A ball was played towards the back post and met by the head of Sean McConville, who tried to angle his header across the goal and towards the far corner. Fortunately for Gills, it floated across the face of the goal before going out of play.
Shaun Williams struck over from just inside the box five minutes later. Dom Jefferies delivered a testing cross from the right, which was headed away as far as the Gills captain. The ball fell to him favourably to hit on the half-volley, but his attempt flew over the crossbar.
There was a moment of panic for the visitors when Savin misjudged Malone’s ball over the top. With it being a windy day at Priestfield, Savin thought he could come out to claim Malone’s overhit pass. Instead, he watched the ball bounce over his head as it began trickling towards the goal line. The Accrington keeper quickly recovered the ball to ensure the scores stayed level.
Ashley Nadesan gave Gillingham the lead in the 29th minute. Nichols did well to play the ball between the Accrington defence, allowing Nadesan to run onto the loose ball. He got into the penalty area before prodding the ball beyond the oncoming Savin, and it trickled into the back of the net.
It was almost four goals in three for Robbie McKenzie as Savin denied him from close range. A corner into the box eventually fell to the feet of McKenzie, who tried to curl it towards the far corner. However, Savin bravely came out to close the angle and made the save.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 1-0 Accrington Stanley
Shaun Williams came close in the early stages of the second half. The ball sat nicely for him, and he tried to curl his effort towards the far top corner. However, his attempt from the edge of the penalty area went just wide of the target.
Jack Nolan came inches away from bringing the visitor’s level. Accrington won a free-kick around 20 yards from the goal in a central position. Nolan took it with his left foot and curled it around the wall towards the left side of the goal. There was a moment of panic as it seemed that it could end up in the back of the net, but fortunately, it went just wide of the post.
McKenzie had a half-chance in the 68th minute. Gills were beginning to take control of the game and went in search of a second goal when a cross into the box fell to Jonny Williams. He waited for the overlapping run of McKenzie before scooping it for the right-back, who then had to go at full stretch to hook the ball goalward. It appeared that it could loop in for a second, but it went wide of the target.
Gillingham had a penalty appeal moments later when Jonny Williams was bundled down to the ground as he looked to win the ball in the air. The second ball fell to Jefferies, who could not hit the target as his first-time effort from inside the box cleared the crossbar.
There was a big moment of panic for Gillingham in the 71st minute. A high-looping ball into the box seemed to be going nowhere when Turner went to claim the ball. However, he was caught in two minds, as Korede Adedoyin got there first to put it beyond the Gillingham keeper. Fortunately, there was no Accrington Stanley player in the vicinity, as Malone was the first on the scene to recover the situation and clear away.
In the 78th minute, the hosts almost doubled their advantage. Jay Rich-Baghuelou was seemingly running the ball out of play before Max Ehmer did brilliantly to get in front of him at the byline to cut the ball back into the middle of the box. It sat nicely for Nadesan to strike it first time, but his goal-bound effort was well blocked. The rebound came back out to George Lapslie, who fired over.
There were a trio of changes in the 82nd minute when Cheye Alexander, Ethan Coleman and the debuting Bonne replaced Jefferies, Jonny Williams and Nadesan. That saw a change in formation, with the hosts switching to a back five. McKenzie slotted into centre-half with Alexander playing at right wing-back. Bonne joined the attack with Nichols.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 1-0 Accrington Stanley
Gillingham: Turner, McKenzie, Ehmer, Ogie, Malone, Dieng (Lapslie 75’), S. Williams, Jefferies (Alexander 82’), J. Williams (Coleman 82’), Nadesan (Bonne 82’), Nichols
Unused Substitutes: Morris, Masterson, Clarke
Accrington Stanley: Savin, Mellor (Lowe 75’), Rich-Baghuelou, Hills, Quirk, Conneely, Nolan (Longelo 65’), Coyle, Leigh, McConville (Whalley 65’), Andrews (Adedoyin 65’)
Unused Substitutes: Isherwood, Pickles, Sloane
Referee: Will Finnie
Attendance: 6489 (109 away fans)