The Skipper leaves it late in the extreme heat to give Gills victory over Harrogate and go top of Sky Bet League 2.
Shaun Williams’ stoppage time goal ensured that Gillingham got back to winning ways in the league with a 1-0 win against Harrogate Town at the Priestfield Stadium.
The goal came in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Connor Mahoney’s corner rebounded around the penalty area before coming out to Tom Nichols. The substitute saw his show just cleared off the line before the rebound fell to Shaun Williams, who smashed the ball beyond Mark Oxley from inside the six-yard box.
There was a lengthy stoppage in the second half when Sam Folarin went down after the ball struck him in the head from close range. After receiving treatment, he was stretchered off the field of play but later reported to be absolutely fine.
Neil Harris made five changes to the starting XI that lost at Grimsby. Conor Masterson made his first league start of the season, while Macauley Bonne made his first full league debut for the Gills.
Having missed the EFL Trophy win against Leyton Orient, Tom Nichols returned to the bench.
The hosts put plenty of pressure on the Harrogate penalty area during the opening 15 minutes, with many set pieces and long throws directed towards the box. However, the visitors dealt with what was thrown at them.
Laplsie had a good opportunity in the 16th minute. Scott Malone did well to get in between two Harrogate defenders before sending a cross towards the near post. Lapslie got on the end of it but sent his header over the crossbar.
Malone was denied by a brilliant block moments later. A ball into the box was cleared as far as Shaun Williams, who spotted the left-back in acres of space on the left side of the penalty area. Malone set himself before shooting goalward. It looked as if it would test Mark Oxley in the Harrogate goal, but a visiting defender was on hand to make the crucial block.
In the 33rd minute, Shad Ogie made an excellent sliding tackle, denying Sam Folarin a shot on goal. Folarin used his pace to get on the end of a ball forward before making his way into the penalty area. Ogie opted to slide in, knowing his tackle had to be perfect, which it was as he made contact with the ball, sending it out of play for a corner which came to nothing.
Gillingham had a great opportunity to take the lead in the 40th minute. Alexander went on a run forward after being played down the right by Robbie McKenzie. The right-back directed a cross towards the back post, which Bonne headed back across the six-yard box. Lapslie got to the ball ahead of Oxley, catching the goalkeeper off his line, but the loose ball bounced off the oncoming Malone and went just wide of the post and out of play for a goal kick.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 0-0 Harrogate Town
George Thomson had the first shot of the second half. The visitors did well to get into the penalty area before the ball found the midfielder outside the box. His effort was a low-driven one, but straight at Jake Turner, who got down to comfortably gather the shot.
The visitors continued to cause issues on the counter-attack as Folarin had acres of space to run into down the right wing. He played an inviting ball across the face of the six-yard box, begging for a Harrogate player to get a touch. Luke Armstrong was the closest to it as he slid in, trying to make contact. Fortunately, the ball evaded him, and Gills eventually regained possession.
Jayden Clarke replaced Lapslie in the 58th minute and almost made an immediate impact. The wide man was given the space to run into as he got into the penalty area. His tricky footwork caught out two Harrogate players, who were sliding in to try and block a low cross, which never came. When he eventually played the ball across the penalty area, no one was in the vicinity to get on the end of Clarke’s ball.
There were two more Gillingham changes in the 67th minute when Nichols and Ashley Nadesan replaced Bonne and Jonny Williams as the Gills went in search of the opening goal.
There was a lengthy stoppage in the game when Folarin went down after the ball struck his head from a close distance. The winger stayed down and received medical treatment before being stretchered off the field of play.
Shaun Williams powered Gillingham into the lead in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time. Mahoney floated a corner towards the six-yard box, which Oxley came to claim. However, a Gillingham player managed to get to the ball before the goalkeeper. It then rebounded around the penalty area before coming out to Nichols, who struck goalward.
His shot was cleared off the line before coming out to Shaun Williams, who thumped the ball into the back of the net from inside the six-yard box.
Nadesan had a huge chance to make it two as the visitors searched for an equaliser. With Harrogate committing players forward, the Gills managed to clear the ball out to the forward, who was midway inside the Gillingham half. Nadesan sprinted to just inside the Harrogate penalty area before shooting. Unfortunately, his curling effort was well-saved by Oxley.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 1-0 Harrogate Town
Gillingham: Turner, Alexander, Masterson, Ogie, Malone, S. Williams, J. Williams (Nichols 67’), Lapslie (Clarke 58’), McKenzie, Mahoney (Ehmer 90+8’), Bonne (Nadesan 66’)
Unused Substitutes: Morris, Clark, Macarthur
Harrogate Town: Oxley, Ramsay (Sims 67’), O’Connor, McDonald, Gibson, Falkingham (Sutton 42’), Thomson, M. Daly (J. Daly 87’), Folarin (Sivi 78’), Armstrong, Odoh
Unused Substitutes: Thomas, Burrell, Foulds
Referee: Neil Hair
Attendance: 5778 (84 away supporters)