Adebayo Akinfenwa scores from the penalty spot for the Gills' fourth against Accrington Stanley Picture: Barry Goodwin
by Luke Cawdell
Gillingham turned in a defensive horror-show at Accrington in a 11-goal thriller.
Andy Hessenthaler’s men conceded seven and had Mark Bentley sent off late in the game following a mass-brawl on a day that will be long remembered for all the wrong reasons by the Gills fans.
Bentley had scored twice earlier in the game and the Gills did have a 2-1 lead but they were unable to cope with Accrigton’s pace.
The Gills had the first chance of the match when Danny Spiller put a free-kick over the bar but it was Accrington who took the lead.
With 13 minutes gone Terry Gornell ghosted past Josh Gowling and the ball was side-footed home by Sean McConville.
Two goals in three minutes from midfielder Mark Bentley turned the game on its head, firstly heading home a Jack Payne throw and seconds later drilling an effort into the top corner.
Accrington were quick to hit back. Two minutes later it was 2-2 when Andrew Parkinson fired in low across keeper Lance Cronin and he was beaten again before half-time, as Charlie Barnett smashed one in after bursting through a shell-shocked defence.
Cody McDonald missed a great chance to make it 3-3 early in the second half but with just the keeper to beat, Ian Dunbavin saved with his legs.
With 55 minutes on the clock McDonald did score a great goal, with a run into the box and shooting high into the goal, but two penalties undid that.
Fouls from Bentley and Gowling in quick succession saw Edwards net with penalties on 58 and 61 minutes to make it 5-3.
Accrington added a sixth when Gornell got behind the defence following Barnett’s ball through and the striker slipped the ball under Cronin just after the hour mark.
The Gills then pulled a goal back with ten minutes left after keeper Dunbavin pulled McDonald down in the box. Akinfenwa slotted home.
With two minutes left things got worse for the Gills as Bentley was ordered off following a second booking following a mass brawl involving players and officials.
The final word belonged to man-of-the-match James Ryan who smashed in the seventh in injury time.
Accrington: Dunbavin, Bateson, Winnard, Hessey, Procter, Ryan, Barnett, McConville (Turner 82mins), Edwards, Parkinson (Murphy 90+4mins), Gornell (Lindfield 90+4mins). Subs not used: Cisak, Richardson, Joyce, Boulding.
Gills: Cronin, Fuller, Palmer, Lawrence, Gowling (Sinclair 74mins),Spiller, Weston (Oli 66mins), J Payne, Akinfenwa, McDonald. Subs not used: Julian, Maher, Rooney, Inkango, S Payne.
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