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Accrington Stanley 1 Gillingham 2: Conor Masterson and Macauley Bonne score in League 2 victory at the Wham Stadium

Macauley Bonne hit the winner for Gillingham as they enjoyed a comeback win at Accrington.

Gillingham lacked the end product in the opening half at the Wham Stadium and Alex Henderson headed the hosts in front five minutes after the restart before the Gills turned it around. Conor Masterson levelled from a corner before Bonne smashed in the second.

Macauley Bonne opened his account for Gillingham on Saturday Picture: @Julian_KPI
Macauley Bonne opened his account for Gillingham on Saturday Picture: @Julian_KPI

Victory made it three in a row for the Gills in League 2.

Tom Nichols and Oli Hawkins were picked as the front two for Gillingham for the first time by head coach Stephen Clemence.

Gillingham had won on their last four visits to Accrington and there was every chance they could have made it five against a home side with experienced players missing and fielding team with an average age of under 21.

Only goal difference separated the sides before the weekend match. Gills’ poor scoring record kept them behind their weekend hosts in the standings.

The Gills had plenty of the ball in the opening half with the likes of Hawkins looking to make his physical presence count. There were four corners inside the opening 20 minutes and plenty of balls into the box, but nothing to test inexperienced keeper Joe Walsh.

Former Gills junior Walsh palmed away a corner but apart from that he wasn’t troubled as the visiting frontline remained ineffective.

Gillingham had seen plenty of the ball in good areas around the Accrington box but couldn’t pick out the killer ball to make it count.

Accrington struggled for an opening of their own in the early stages but missed a glorious chance to take the lead. Ben Woods tried his luck from distance and when Jake Turner couldn’t hold onto the shot, Josh Woods’ follow-up lacked power and bounced straight to the grateful Gills keeper.

Tim Dieng and Hawkins met crosses but couldn’t find the target as the half ended goalless.

Gillingham had a number of set-piece chances in the first half that they didn’t capitalise on and wasted another early in the second when Connor Mahoney’s ball in was comfortably cleared.

Moments later and Accrington went up the other end and made the Gills pay.

From their first corner of the match, the ball was played deep and Accrington won a free-kick on the left edge of the Gills area. Jack Nolan played the ball in and Henderson got enough on it with a cushioned header to narrowly guide home the opener.

Clemence was about to make a switch with just over an hour gone when the Gills equalised.

With 62 minutes gone a Mahoney corner finally paid off, this time sending it deep for Hawkins and when he nodded it back across, Masterson was there to complete a simple finish.

Substitute George Lapslie had a shot blocked as the Gills looked to build on their equalising goal and Nichols fired wide from a Macauley Bonne flick.

Gillingham were playing with more confidence after their goal but it still needed a brave block from Robbie McKenzie to deny the marauding Joe Pritchard. The same Accrington player almost scored direct from a corner but the Gills cleared after it had hit the inside of the post.

From that let-off came the Gills second soon after. Mahoney showed his class by beating the full-back and getting the ball in and when Nichols laid it off, Bonne was there to smash it past Walsh for a 75th-minute lead.

Henderson dragged a shot just wide late on for Stanley and keeper Walsh saved from Mahoney in stoppage-time.

Gillingham: Turner, McKenzie (Carke 74mins), Malone, Masterson, Ehmer, Ogie, Coleman, Mahoney, Dieng (Lapslie 63mins), Nichols (Clark 90mins), Hawkins (Bonne 63mins). Subs: Morris, Alexander, J Williams.

Accrington: Walsh, Shipley, Hills, Woods, Pritchard, Gubbins (Pickles 68mins), Nolan, Martin, Henderson, O’Brien, Woods. Subs: McIntyre, Mellor, Quirk, Adekoya, Trickett, Conneely.

Referee: Daniel Middleton

Attendance: 2,383 (299 away)

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