Stephen Clemence seals all three points in first home league fixture in charge of the club.
Second-half goals from Tom Nichols and Dom Jefferies secured Stephen Clemence a first Priestfield win as Gillingham beat Salford City 3-1 at the Priestfield Stadium.
Connor Mahoney had given the Gills a first-half lead when he did well to get beyond a Salford defender before curling a shot from 18 yards into the bottom corner.
In the 37th minute, Matt Smith equalised when he thumped a header into the far bottom corner after getting on the end of Ryan Watson’s cross.
Nichols restored Gillingham’s advantage nine minutes into the second half when he did brilliantly to guide Jonny Williams’ cross into the far corner of the net.
Just after the hour, Jefferies made it three as he got on the end of Cheye Alexander’s cross, heading into the top corner from close range.
Stephen Clemence made three changes to the side that lost at Wrexham for his first league fixture at the Priestfield Stadium. Max Clark came into the starting XI in the place of Scott Malone, who missed out through injury.
George Lapslie and Tom Nichols came into the line-up for Jayden Clarke and Macauley Bonne, who dropped to the bench. Ashley Nadesan was involved in the matchday squad for the first time since injuring his ankle in the win against MK Dons.
It was a quiet opening quarter of an hour, with neither side mustering a chance at goal. Gills and Salford had the ball around the penalty area but could not make anything count.
Conor Masterson provided a huge block to deny Luke Garbutt in the 20th minute. The ball was played into the defender inside the Gills penalty area, who seemed to have a clear shot at goal. However, Masterson came bravely diving in to send the effort behind for a corner, which came to nothing.
In the 23rd minute, Connor Mahoney gave Gillingham the lead with the first shot on target of the game. Jonny Williams’ cross from the left found Nichols inside the penalty area, who had his path to goal blocked by a defender. The striker tried to weave his way beyond the defender before being dispossessed. The loose ball found Mahoney on the edge of the penalty area, and he cut inside onto his left foot, getting beyond a defender before bending his shot into the bottom corner, beating Alex Cairns in the Salford net.
Matt Smith equalised for the visitors in the 37th minute. Ryan Watson crossed a ball from the left, and Smith did well to outjump his marker, thumping his header beyond Jake Turner and into the bottom corner.
Gills reacted well to the goal and came close when Clark’s cross directed towards Lapslie was headed goalward by the midfielder. The ball took a crucial touch off a Salford defender, sending it out for a corner. From the resulting corner, Mahoney’s ball towards the near post was inches away from a Gillingham head, which would have caused Cairns an issue. Unfortunately for the hosts, the visitors made the first contact with the delivery before clearing their lines.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 1-1 Salford City
Conor McAleny had the first opportunity of the second half when he was played through in between a couple of Gillingham defenders. He made his way into the penalty area before directing a low-drilled effort towards the far bottom corner. However, he dragged it too wide of the target, with Turner having it covered.
In the 51st minute, Nichols had a great opportunity. It was a well-worked move, with Jonny Williams cutting it back to Clark, who sent a cross deep into the penalty area. Mahoney headed back into the danger area for Nichols, who sent his header over the crossbar.
Nichols made no mistake a few minutes later as he restored the Gillingham lead. Williams sent a cross into the penalty area, which was directed at Nichols. The striker was in an awkward position but did brilliantly to adjust before guiding his header into the far corner of the net, leaving Cairns rooted to his spot.
Dom Jefferies scored a third just after the hour. Jefferies started the move for the goal as he got to the byline before cutting it back to Nichols, who was on the edge of the penalty area. The striker then played it to Mahoney, who waited for Cheye Alexander’s overlapping run before releasing the ball. Alexander got into the box before dinking a cross towards the back post for Jefferies, who headed into the top corner from close range.
Smith almost pulled a goal back for Salford shortly afterwards as he did well to get in behind the Gills defence. However, Turner was quickly off his line to close the striker’s angle before saving with his body.
In the 74th minute, Gills made their first change, with Clarke replacing the scorer of the first in Mahoney.
Gills made a double change with ten minutes remaining when Nadesan made his return to action, replacing Nichols. Tim Dieng also entered the action with Jonny Williams departing.
Gillingham somehow failed to score a fourth, coming inches away from adding to their advantage. Clark’s corner from the left found the head of Shad Ogie, whose header crashed off the woodwork. The rebound fell to Dieng, who shot goalward. Unfortunately, his effort was somehow cleared off the line before the visitors cleared away.
Turner made a crucial double save in stoppage time to keep Gillingham’s two-goal advantage. McAleny had the first effort with his shot saved by the feet of Turner, but the rebound sat favourably for Kelly N’Mai, who could not make clear contact with his shot, as it bounced comfortably into the path of the Gills goalkeeper.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 3-1 Salford City
Gillingham: Turner, Alexander, Masterson, Ogie, Clark, Coleman, Jefferies, Mahoney (Clarke 74’), Lapslie (Bonne 89’), J. Williams (Dieng 81’), Nichols (Nadesan 80’)
Unused Substitutes: Morris, Ehmer, S. Williams
Salford City: Cairns, Vassell (Mariappa 63’), Tilt, Garbutt (McAleny 34’), McLennan, Mallan, Watt, John, Lund (N’Mai 64’), Watson, Smith
Unused Substitutes: Wright, Dackers, Humbles
Referee: Paul Howard
Attendance: 6431 (98 away supporters)