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Colchester United 3 Gillingham 0

Gillingham manager Peter Taylor Picture: Barry Goodwin
Gillingham manager Peter Taylor Picture: Barry Goodwin

A trio of second half goals condemned the Gills to defeat at Colchester.

Sanchez Watt put the hosts ahead early in the second half and Clinton Morrison finished the Gills off late on.

A stoppage-time third from Freddie Sears put the icing on the cake for a dominant Colchester side.

The Gills had been on the defensive for much of the second half and the hosts were well worthy of the win.

Just one place separated the side in League 1 before kick-off, with the Gills starting a point and a place better off than their hosts.

There was just one change to Gillingham’s starting XI, as Charlie Lee dropped out and was replaced by Bradley Dack.

Peter Taylor resisted the temptation to hand an immediate start to new signing Connor Smith, who started on the bench.

The game had been in doubt earlier in the day, due to the state of the pitch. A sticky and boggy surface made it tricky for both teams.

Central defender Leon Legge almost got caught out early on, as his back-pass lacked the power to reach Stuart Nelson, but the Gills survived the scare.

Colchester left-back Luke Garbutt twice tested Gills keeper Nelson, with efforts from distance but he got behind both. Home right-back Craig Eastmond was less precise, with a couple of half-chances that drifted well clear of danger.

Gillingham offered little threat upfront in the opening 45 minutes and Cody McDonald smashed a hopeful effort narrowly wide midway through the first half.

Garbutt remained a threat for the hosts and early in the second half he had Nelson diving at full stretch to save a curling 20-yard effort.

With 50 minutes gone the hosts took the lead. Midfielder Steven Gregory gave away possession, Colchester attacked through Watt, and the former Arsenal trainee finished the move off from close-range.

It was almost two moments later but Legge was on hand to clear Brian Wilson’s goalbound effort off the line. Winger Dominic Vose sent a dipping shot narrowly over and Nelson once more had to save from Garbutt, as the hosts looked to seal the points.

Eastmond found the target with 15 minutes left but once again, Nelson was there to keep the Gills in the game, diving down low to make the save.

Colchester got a deserved second with three minutes left when a free-kick landed at the feet of Clinton Morrison and the former Birmingham and Crystal Palace striker drilled the shot low, through a crowd of bodies, to end Gillingham’s hopes.

A rare chance at the end of the game for the Gills brought chants of “hallelujah” from the away fans, as Myles Weston smashed a shot into the goalkeeper’s arms.

Gillingham's misery was complete when Sears drilled in Colchester's third.

Gillingham: Nelson, Martin, Harriman, Barrett, Legge, Gregory, Hessenthaler (Weston 74mins), Dack (Smith 65mins), Fagan (Akinfenwa 65mins), Kedwell, McDonald. Subs not used: Howard, Linganzi, Davies, Marriott.

Colchester: Walker, Wilson, Okuonghae, Eastman, Garbutt, David Wright, Bean, Eastmond, Watt (Bonne 89mins), Morrison (Sears 89mins), Vose (Olufemi 86mins). Subs not used: Cousins, Spence, Kent, Sanderson.

Attendance: 3,819

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