Gills slip to 1-0 defeat at Stevenage in the club's opening game of the 2023 calendar year.
Carl Piergianni scored the only goal of the game as Stevenage beat Gillingham 1-0 at the LAMEX Stadium on Monday in the club's opening fixture of the New Year.
Neil Harris made three changes to the side that lost to Sutton as Glenn Morris returned in goal for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury against Northampton. Mikael Mandron and Stuart O’Keefe returned to the starting XI, while Callum Harriott was named among the substitutes.
Elkan Baggott was initially named on the bench but pulled out in the warm-up due to an ankle issue. Ryan Law took his place with the other subs.
Alex MacDonald had a golden opportunity to give Gillingham the lead. Mandron played the midfielder through on goal and he was one-on-one with Taye Ashby-Hammond. MacDonald tried to dink the ball over the oncoming goalkeeper, but Ashby-Hammond pulled off a strong save. He and Mandron then competed for the loose ball, but the hosts were awarded a free-kick.
MacDonald had another shot on target in the 21st minute. He received the ball in the air and did well bringing it down before taking a touch inside. He aimed a curling effort towards the goal, but it was too central and Ashby-Hammond pulled off the save.
Carl Piergianni gave the hosts the lead a couple of minutes later. Jake Reeves curled a free-kick towards the six-yard box, and the Stevenage captain rose the highest to direct his header across the goal and into the bottom corner beyond Glenn Morris.
Robbie McKenzie came close as he saw his header cleared off the line. MacDonald curled a corner towards the near post, which McKenzie flicked towards the goal. It looked to have beaten Ashby-Hammond, but there was a Stevenage defender on the line to head clear.
HALF-TIME: Stevenage 1-0 Gillingham
Danny Rose forced Morris into a save in the 59th minute as the ball dropped for the forward in a good area. He did well to get it under control before aiming a low-driven shot goalward. Fortunately, it lacked power as Morris comfortably made the save.
Jordan Roberts almost made it two in the 71st minute. He received the ball 30 yards from goal and directed a low-driven effort to Morris’ left. It was aimed right in the bottom corner, but Morris did well to get across and push it wide of the post.
Jamie Reid, on as a sub, had a good chance with a couple of minutes remaining. He received the ball just outside the box before moving it onto his left foot. He shot across the goal, but Morris was untroubled as it bounced wide of the goal.
McKenzie came inches away moments later. A free-kick towards the penalty area was headed back down to the right-back, who struck it with his left foot. He directed it across the goal and it beat Ashby-Hammond, and unfortunately, the post, as it bounced just wide.
FULL-TIME: Stevenage 1-0 Gillingham
Stevenage: Ashby-Hammond, Wildin, Sweeney, Vancooten (Bostwick 55’), Piergianni, Clark, Roberts (Taylor 90’), Reeves, Gilbey, Rose, Norris (Reid 72’)
Unused Substitutes: Chapman, Campbell, Smith, Amoo
Gillingham: Morris, McKenzie, Wright, Ehmer, Tutonda, Williams, O’Keefe (Harriott 70’), MacDonald, Jefferies, Mandron, Kashket (Adelakun 70’)
Unused Substitutes: Turner, Alexander, Law, Lee
Referee: Carl Boyeson
Attendance: 3703 (550 Gills supporters)