Gills win their third straight league game after coming from behind to claim victory at Accrington.
Macauley Bonne came off the bench to score the winner as Gillingham beat Accrington Stanley 2-1 at the Wham Stadium on Saturday.
Accrington took the lead just five minutes into the second half as Alex Henderson’s header snuck into the back of the net.
Gills drew level through Conor Masterson though when Connor Mahoney curled a corner towards the back post, where Oli Hawkins met it, heading it back across the goal. Masterson got on the end of it at the back post, heading into the back of the net.
In the 75th minute, Bonne fired Gillingham in front. Mahoney did brilliantly to get beyond a couple of defenders before cutting it back to Jayden Clarke, who saw his attempt blocked. The ball ricocheted to Bonne, who shot into the right corner of the net.
Stephen Clemence made three changes to the starting XI that lost in the FA Cup Third Round against Sheffield United. Robbie McKenzie, Tim Dieng and Tom Nichols came into the side, with Cheye Alexander dropping to the bench. Ashley Nadesan and Dom Jefferies both missed out.
Former Gills academy graduate and goalkeeper Joe Walsh started in goal for Accrington Stanley.
It was a quiet opening quarter of an hour to the game, with neither goalkeeper being tested. Gillingham enjoyed the better of the possession, getting into good attacking areas, but could not muster an opportunity.
Ben Woods had the first chance of note in the 25th minute. The ball came out to the forward, who had the time and space to set himself before shooting from distance. Jake Turner got down to push the shot away before the rebound sat up for Woods, who failed to make strong contact, knocking it right into the arms of the Gillingham goalkeeper.
Moments later, Gills applied some pressure of their own. Oli Hawkins played Nichols through down the left, and he made his way into the penalty area before waiting for support to arrive. Nichols sent it back to Scott Malone, who delivered a cross which was initially cleared. Gills regained possession before working their way into the box, and Malone got a shot away, which was blocked by an Accrington defender before they cleared their lines.
Dieng and Hawkins both had half chances as Gills continued to have joy in the wide areas. The first came from a cross from the right, where Dieng rose the highest. Unfortunately, he could not make clear contact, glancing his header across the goal. However, Malone was quick to act, keeping the ball in play before setting it back to Shad Ogie, who delivered an excellent first-time ball. Hawkins did well to win the header but cleared the crossbar with his attempt.
The hosts tested Turner twice before half-time. Jack Nolan tried to catch Turner out with a free-kick from the right touchline, curling an effort towards the near post, which the Gills goalkeeper got across to claim. The second Nolan opportunity came as he cut inside from the right to shoot on his left foot, which bounced into the path of Turner.
HALF-TIME: Accrington Stanley 0-0 Gillingham
In the 50th minute, Alex Henderson headed Accrington Stanley into the lead. Nolan curled a free-kick from the right of the penalty area towards the box, which was met by the head of an unmarked Henderson. His header sneaked beyond Turner, hitting the inside of the post before crossing the line.
The hosts continued their strong start to the half when Josh Woods saw his header flash across the face of the goal. Nolan crossed from the left, and Josh Woods got across to guide the header across goal. Fortunately, no one was in the vicinity to knock the ball into an empty net.
In the 62nd minute, Conor Masterson headed Gillingham back level. Connor Mahoney curled a corner from the right to the back post, which was headed back across the face of the goal by Hawkins. His cutback was met by Masterson, who powered his header into the back of the net.
That would be Hawkins’ final involvement, as he was replaced by Macauley Bonne, and George Lapslie came on for Dieng.
The goal woke the Gills up as they began to go in search of a second Bonne had a good chance, firing a shot wide at the near post. Nichols did the same minutes later after Bonne did well to flick it down into his path, but he shot wide of the target.
Joe Pritchard’s corner somehow failed to end up in the back of the net in the 73rd minute. He curled a corner towards the goal from the left, which evaded everybody. It hit the inside of the post, with the ball seemingly going in, but it took a fortunate bounce as it came out before Gillingham cleared their lines.
The visitors went down the other end and took the lead through Bonne. Mahoney had the ball by the corner flag and did excellently, working his way out of the area to bring the ball towards the penalty area. He cut it back for Jayden Clarke, who had just replaced McKenzie, and he had his attempt blocked. The ball ricocheted to Bonne, who made no mistake, firing the ball into the right corner of the net.
Henderson had a half-chance with less than five minutes remaining. He received the ball just outside the penalty area and did well to turn and get a shot away. Fortunately, he dragged it wide of the target, leaving Turner untested.
Mahoney almost added a third during stoppage time, as he did well to dribble into the penalty area. He got a shot away, which was parried away by Walsh before the hosts cleared the rebound.
FULL-TIME: Accrington Stanley 1-2 Gillingham
Accrington Stanley: Walsh, O’Brien, Gubbins (Pickles 68’), Hills, Shipley, B. Woods, Martin, Pritchard, Henderson, Nolan, J. Woods
Unused Substitutes: McIntyre, Mellor, Quirk, Adekoya, Trickett, Conneely
Gillingham: Turner, McKenzie (Clarke 74’), Masterson, Ehmer, Ogie, Malone, Coleman, Dieng (Lapslie 63’), Mahoney, Hawkins (Bonne 63’), Nichols (Clark 90+1’)
Unused Substitutes: Morris, Alexander, J. Williams
Referee: Daniel Middleton
Attendance: 2383 (299 Gills supporters)