Tranmere Rovers 1 Gillingham 2
Gillingham celebrate at Tranmere Picture: Barry Goodwin
Adebayo Akinfenwa struck twice to win the points for Gillingham at Tranmere on Friday night.
Striker Akinfenwa put the Gills ahead in first-half stoppage time and Tranmere had to play most of the second half with ten men, after Jim McNulty was sent-off for a professional foul.
The lead was doubled midway through the second half as Akinfenwa nodded home his second goal of the evening.
Ryan Lowe halved Gillingham’s lead with 13 minutes left but the visitors hung on to take maximum points.
Injury problems had again forced manager Peter Taylor’s hand, as Danny Kedwell missed the trip with a groin injury, meaning a first league start for Akinfenwa under the current Gills boss.
Chris Whelpdale and Danny Hollands also missed out, after picking up knocks in the 2-2 draw with Peterborough last week.
Early chances fell for the Gills, with Bradley Dack and McDonald both putting chances wide, before a golden opportunity came and went for Weston.
Michael Harriman put the winger through in on goal but home keeper Owain Fon Williams made a great one-handed save.
Tranmere had their own moments where they were cursing their luck in the first half. Their leading scorer Lowe headed a great chance wide before Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro put a shot narrowly wide, after a quickly-taken free-kick caught the Gills defence off guard.
Weston, who had been lively early on, limped off with a pull shortly after curling an effort wide and the chances dried up for the Gills once he was substituted.
Gills keeper Stuart Nelson had to get down low to save from James Wallace and as the game ticked over into the second and final minute of first half stoppage-time it looked as though it the sides would be going in all-square.
But Akinfenwa pounced on a loose ball, after Dack’s blocked shot sat up infront of him and the big striker buried a volley home past Fon Williams, for his third of the season.
The Gills started the second half well, with Fon Williams twice saving from McDonald and Dack dinking a shot over the bar.
Tranmere’s hopes faded further when their centre-back McNulty was given a straight red as he pulled McDonald back, with the striker running in on goal and with no other defender covering. It was an easy decision for referee Rob Lewis.
More chances fell to the Gills, with McDonald’s point-blank header being saved by the over-worked home keeper. At the other end a slip from Adam Barrett gave Lowe a sniff, but he fired wide.
Gillingham celebrate scoring the second goal at Tranmere Pic: Barry Goodwin
Akinfenwa doubled the lead in the 69th minute, as he followed up a header of his own that had hit the post, by nodding home the rebound after Steven Gregory’s cross had created the chance.
Minutes later Akinfenwa’s night ended early, with him limping off and adding himself the ever-increasing injury list.
Tranmere pulled a goal back through Lowe, with his 14th of the season. The striker latched onto a ball over the top, held off the Gillingham defenders and calmly dispatched the ball past Nelson.
Gillingham: Nelson, Harriman, Martin, Barrett, Legge, Hessenthaler, Gregory, Dack, Weston (German 22mins), Akinfenwa (Lee 72mins), McDonald. Subs: Howard, Davies, Fagan, Daniels, Hare.
Tranmere: Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Wallace, Lowe, Kirby (Horwood 57mins), McNulty, Koumas, Ridehalgh, Peterson (Robinson 72mins), Akpa Akpro (Stockton 64mins). Subs: Atkinson, Power, Otsemobor, Mooney.
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