Gills leave the Poundland Bescot Stadium empty handed.
Isaac Hutchinson and Conor Wilkinson scored in the second half as Gillingham were beaten 2-0 by Walsall at The Poundland Bescot Stadium.
There was little to choose between the teams during the majority of the game, but a deflected strike and a late effort from close range ensured Walsall took the points.
Neil Harris made one change to the side that beat Tranmere 2-0, with Aiden O’Brien coming into the starting XI. Alex MacDonald dropped to the bench, while Robbie McKenzie returned to the matchday squad.
Walsall started the game on the front foot, with Isaac Hutchinson’s header tipped over the bar by Glenn Morris in the opening seconds. Liam Kinsella’s cross from the right found the head of Hutchinson, who headed it goalward, but Morris was equal to it as he reacted quickly to push it over the goal.
Morris was called into action in the sixth minute as Brandon Comley tried his luck from 20 yards. However, it was at a comfortable height for the Gillingham keeper, who got across to make the save and caught the ball to avoid any chance of a rebound.
Tom Nichols had Gillingham’s first chance in the 22nd minute. David Tutonda played an inviting cross from the left, which just evaded the head of a Gillingham player. It went to the other side for Cheye Alexander to put a ball into the penalty area. It found the head of Nichols, but his header goalward went just over the crossbar.
Gills came close with the ball begging for a touch at the back post to put the ball into the back of the net. Timothee Dieng received the ball on the edge of the box and took a touch to take it beyond a defender before sending it goalward. It took a touch on its way to the goal and was going wide of the far post with Nichols sliding in. Unfortunately, he could not get to it as it rolled out of play for a goal kick.
Morris did well to deny Andy Williams after 39 minutes. The ball sat nicely for the striker to strike a powerful effort goalward. Morris had to stand strong as he got a solid hand on the shot to push it over the top of the crossbar for a corner.
HALF-TIME: Walsall 0-0 Gillingham
Hutchinson gave Walsall the lead in the 50th minute. The attacker received the ball off Tom Knowles before curling a shot towards the goal. Unfortunately, it took a heavy deflection on its way to the net as it wrong-footed Morris and went in at the near post.
Aiden O’Brien came close to finding an equaliser in the 64th minute. After his initial shot was blocked, he tried his luck again with a left-footed effort that floated just over the crossbar following a deflection.
Oli Hawkins had a half-chance moments later. After heading a ball in his direction down to O’Brien, he was given the ball back. Hawkins tried to curl it towards the far corner with a first-time effort, but it went high and wide of the target.
Hutchinson had a good opportunity to add a second after good work from Knowles. He made his way down the wing before cutting it back for Hutchinson on the edge of the area. He fizzed a first-time effort towards the goal and straight at Morris, who gathered it at the second attempt.
Dom Jefferies, who replaced Dieng, came close in the 88th minute. He played a one-two with O’Brien before curling an effort towards the far corner. It had Evans beat but fizzed just wide of the post.
Conor Wilkinson came close to making it two during stoppage time. His shot from inside the penalty area took a heavy deflection as it looped over the diving Morris. It seemed that it would loop in at the far post but went wide of the goal.
However, Wilkinson made no mistake in the final seconds of the game as he got into a central position inside the penalty area before lofting it beyond Morris and into the back of the net.
FULL-TIME: Walsall 2-0 Gillingham
Walsall: Evans, Riley (Songo’o 81’), McEntee, Daniels, Monthe, Kinsella, Comley, Maddox (Low 53’), Hutchinson, Knowles (Stevens 81’), Williams (Wilkinson 74’)
Unused Substitutes: Smith, Gordon, Maher
Gillingham: Morris, Alexander (Abrahams 90’), Ehmer, Masterson, Tutonda (McKenzie 74’), Williams, Dieng (Jefferies 75’), Lapslie (MacDonald 58’), O’Brien, Hawkins, Nichols
Unused Substitutes: Turner, Wright
Referee: Sunny Singh Gill