Brentford 2 Gillingham 1
Gillingham manager Peter Taylor
Gillingham were unable to halt Brentford’s charge to the top of League 1 on Friday night.
Jonathan Douglas put Brentford ahead midway through the first half and Marcello Trotta doubled the lead from the penalty spot.
The Gills pulled a goal back through Cody McDonald and pressed late on but couldn’t prevent Brentford claiming 10th straight home win at Griffin Park.
Victory for Brentford led to them leapfrogging Leyton Orient at the top of the table.
Gills boss Peter Taylor made two changes to his starting XI, with Amine Linganzi coming in for his first start in over two months, replacing Jake Hessenthler in midfield. Upfront Craig Fagan replaced Adebayo Akinfenwa.
Taylor’s men knew a win would take them 11th in League 1, albeit temporarily.
For the second time in the month the Sky Sports cameras were rolling. The Gills had pulled off a shock last time when on live television, pulling off a surprise 1-0 win over Wolves. Once again the Blues were unfancied.
Despite a good start from the Gills, the home side had the majority of the first half chances. Home forward Alan Judge had a number of long range efforts, the best of which was tipped spectacularly over the bar by keeper Nelson.
Brentford opened the scoring after 22 minutes when Jake Bidwell’s cross was stabbed home from close range by Douglas, as he ghosted into the box unchallenged.
Gillingham’s best opportunity of the half fell to McDonald and he really should have stuck away the 33rd minute chance. Fagan’s deft flick had put the striker in on goal, with just keeper David Button to beat, but shot wide.
The half ended with Gills captain Adam Barrett making a couple of great sliding blocks to deny the dangerous Judge.
Brentford striker Marcello Trotta struck a shot into the side netting early on in the second half and Linganzi rolled one into Button’s hands at the other end.
Nelson pulled off another super save 10 minutes after the restart, tipping another long-range Judge effort over the bar.
With an hour gone, Taylor made a double substitution and Adebayo Akinfenwa made an immediate impact, winning numerous headers and unsettling a previously rarely-troubled Brentford defence.
Brentford remained a threat and Nelson had to be alert to save from Donaldson, after the 14-goal striker wriggled free and found some space.
With 20 minutes left Brentford doubled the lead. Trotta, whose penalty miss cost Brentford promotion last season, made no mistake as he sent Nelson the wrong way. Referee Keith Stroud had no hesitation in pointing to the spot after Barrett had pulled down Tony Craig.
But just three minutes later that lead was halved, when McDonald was put through on goal by Fagan and this time he converted, to net his 10th of the season – drawing level with Danny Kedwell as the club’s leading scorer.
Brentford’s Judge put a good chance over the bar with five minutes left and at the other end Gillingham’s Jack Marriott, on for just a few minutes from the bench, saw his shot saved after being put in on goal by Akifenwa.
Nelson made a final save in stoppage time, getting in the way of Donaldson's shot, as the hosts broke.
Brentford: Button, O’Connor, Craig, Judge, Bidwell, McCormack, Logan, Saville, Douglas, Donaldson, Trotta (Akpom 73mins). Subs not used: Lee, Grigg, Dallas, Diagouraga, Reeves, Adams.
Gillingham: Nelson, Hewitt, Martin, Barrett, Legge, Gregory, Linganzi (Akinfenwa 56mins), Harriman, Weston (Dack 56mins), Fagan (Marriott 79mins), McDonald. Subs not used: Howard, Davies, Smith, Hessenthaler.
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