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Gillingham 0 Barnet 1

Gillingham v Barnet

Barnet's Graham Stack stops Gills with another save. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Gillingham were beaten on home soil by lowly Barnet on Boxing Day.

The League 2 leaders were a goal down at the break after Barnet’s Jake Hyde fired home midway through the first half.

It had been a disappointing first 45 minutes for the Gills, who started the afternoon five points clear at the top of the table, as they registered just one meaningful attempt on target.

A triple substitution after an hour saw an improvement, but Barnet hung on to take maximum points. The Gills have now won just once from their last five home league matches.

Boss Martin Allen made three changes to the team which had drawn 2-2 with Fleetwood in their last encounter. On that occasion they had to come back from a two-goal deficit.

And they gave themselves another mountain to climb, this time against a side sitting 22nd in the league, and one which Allen had led to League 2 safety last season in what was his third spell at the club as manager.

The visitors, with former Dutch international Edgar Davids in the team, had the better of the first-half chances. Davids himself tried a cheeky flick at goal, but his attempt lacked pace and precision.

However the veteran midfielder created the opener when he picked up a loose ball and found Mark Byrne. He fed the ball to Hyde and, with the defence backing off and opening up in front of him, he smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

The Gills struggled to impose their game on the visitors, to the frustration of the home fans, but nearly levelled after 27 minutes. Matt Fish was found in space by Romain Vincelot, but the resulting shot was blocked by keeper Graham Stack.

It was as good as it got for Allen’s side in that half. At the other end, John Oster fired in a free-kick which tested the alertness of Gills keeper Stuart Nelson. He tipped the effort over the bar.

Barnet were still bossing the game with an hour gone, prompting Allen into making the triple switch. Jack Payne, Chris Whelpdale and former Barnet striker Adam Birchall all came on and immediately the Gills looked much livelier.

Whelpdale shot just wide and Charlie Allen had a shot saved by the keeper as the chances kept coming. In the space of 10 minutes the Gills had created more opportunities than the previous 60, as Birchall and Deon Burton also had efforts denied by an overworked Stack.

The Barnet keeper was on hand to deny the Gills again with 10 minutes left, with successive impressive saves to deny Joe Martin and Burton.

Gillingham:  Nelson, Fish, Martin, Davies, Barrett, Montrose (Payne 60mins), Vincelot (Birchall 60mins), Lee (Whelpdale 60mins), Allen, Burton, Weston. Subs not used: Kedwell, Strevens, Frampton, Forecast.

Barnet: Stack, Fuller, Byrne, Holmes (Weston 84mins), Yiadom, Hyde, Johnson, Stephens, Oster, Iro, Davids. Subs not used: Brown, Fortune, Nurse, Cowler, Lee, Atieno.

Attendance: 7,448.

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