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Colchester United 1 Gillingham 2 – match report

Josh Parker and Lee Martin both bagged a goal and an assist in Gillingham’s win at League 2 Colchester.

Lee Martin netted his first goal of the pre-season campaign to put the Gills ahead at the break.

Josh Parker doubled Gills’ lead before Ryan Jackson scored against his old team.

Lee Martin shoots at goal for Gillingham Picture: Andy Payton
Lee Martin shoots at goal for Gillingham Picture: Andy Payton

Seven of the Gills team played 90 minutes and there were no obvious injuries, as Ady Pennock’s men maintained their unbeaten pre-season campaign.

That ends on Saturday with a trip to another Essex side, Canvey Island.

Colchester included former Gills skipper Doug Loft in their starting XI and summer signing Jackson – released by head coach Pennock at the end of last season – on the bench.

Sadly the hosts were unable to field player-of-the-year Brennan Dickenson after the ex-Gills man picked up a serious injury towards the end of the previous campaign. He’s unlikely to play again until February.

Pennock had split his own squad in two for the weekend, in a bid to give many of the senior players 90 minutes. Josh Wright was one to miss the Colchester trip and is set to face Canvey Island on Saturday.

Josh Parker on the ball for Gillingham Picture: Andy Payton
Josh Parker on the ball for Gillingham Picture: Andy Payton

The team picked for Friday night’s game looked to include most of those who are seemingly going to kick off the season opener at Doncaster next week.

Gillingham almost scored a stunning second minute opener through Tottenham loanee Connor Ogolvie, smashing a rising shot against the crossbar from an angled 25-yard shot.

Ogolvie was Gills’ left-sided wing-back as Pennock again went with a 3-5-2 formation. Scott Wagstaff provided the width on the right. The front two of Josh Parker and Tom Eaves were a proper handful.

It was Eaves’ strength that led to Gills’ 30 minute opener, holding the ball up with his back to goal before releasing Parker. He in turn played a ball into the path of Martin, who finished well.

Parker could have had a goal himself, after Luke O’Neill’s forward ball sent him scampering in on goal, but keeper Sam Walker got a foot to his attempted chip.

Gillingham defender Max Ehmer goes up for the ball Picture: Andy Payton
Gillingham defender Max Ehmer goes up for the ball Picture: Andy Payton

Eaves had gone close with a downward header that Walker also saved well from, while Martin fashioned another effort for himself, that lacked the power to beat the keeper.

Colchester played some patient stuff at times, looking neat and tidy, but lacked the spark to penetrate the Gills defence, something Dickenson provided for them last season.

Half-time substitute Jackson provided an early opening for the hosts, attacking with pace, but his cross couldn’t find a team-mate. At the other end Wagstaff had a shot blocked.

There was a flurry of chances during the opening stages of the second half. Holy almost landed the Gills in trouble when he came for the ball but missed. Mikael Mandron couldn’t find his way through a crowded box to capitalise.

For the Gills, Wagstaff had a shot blocked and Eaves fired a powerful low effort wide before Parker headed home a second, in off the post, from a Martin corner after 54 minutes.

Martin volleyed a good chance over from close-range for the Gills but Colchester pulled one back when Jackson – making quite an impact on the right - burst into the box, running onto a ball over the top, and finishing low under Holy.

Gillingham: Holy, O’Neill, Zakuani, Ehmer, Wagstaff, Ogilvie (Simpson 83mins), Byrne, Bingham, Martin (Oldaker 83mins), Parker (Stevenson 83mins), Eaves (Mbo 83mins). Sub not used: Hadler.

Colchester: Walker (Gilmartin 46mins), Wynter, Kpekawa (Murray 66mins), Eastman, Vincent-Young (Jackson 46mins), Loft (Lapslie 59mins), Slater, O'Sullivan (Szmodics 66mins), Kinsella (Issa 81mins), Mandron, Johnstone (Wright 66mins). Sub not used: Jefferies.

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