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Colchester United 2 Gillingham 1 – match report

Gillingham’s unbeaten start in League 1 came to an end at Colchester.

Gavin Massey and Callum Harriott struck for the hosts to give them the first-half advantage. Luke Norris netted for the Gills, but Cody McDonald had a penalty saved.

McDonald’s missed spot-kick proved costly as the Gills were unable to get back into the game in the second half. Defeat saw them lose their place at the top of the league.

Doug Loft on the stretch for Gills on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin
Doug Loft on the stretch for Gills on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin

Colchester had claimed their first win of the season on the Tuesday, beating Sheffield United 3-2 away, with keeper Jamie Jones making a crucial late penalty save in that game.

Jones was the hero again as they made it two wins on the spin.

The Gills went into the game top of the league and without a loss from their opening seven matches.

It was a thrilling opening half and McDonald had a good early chance for the Gills, hitting a low shot off the outside of the post.

But with four minutes gone Colchester took the lead. Harriott picked out Massey and the forward drilled the ball past Stuart Nelson.

It took Gillingham just three minutes to level. Norris received the ball from McDonald, did well to create the space and then fired home.

Both teams picked up three bookings each. The challenge from Kane Vincent-Young on Bradley Dack could have warranted more than a yellow.

Colchester were back in front just before the half-hour mark. Gills failed to clear from inside their box and Harriott spotted a gap through a crowded area, shooting past Nelson.

McDonald should have levelled before the break. Frankie Kent was penalised for handball but McDonald’s spot-kick wasn’t precise enough to trouble Jones and he saved. It was the striker’s first penalty miss in a Gills shirt.

Jordan Houghton burst through early on for the Gills in the second half but Jones came out to make a good save. The keeper also denied McDonald on the follow-up.

The second half failed to live up to the pace of the first. Dack flicked a header goalwards with 20 minutes left but Jones comfortably held on.

Marvin Sordell came an inch away from wrapping up the points with seven minutes left. Kent’s cross just missed the stretch of the home striker, with the goal gaping.

Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Dickenson (Garmston 46mins), Ehmer, Egan, Wright (Hessenthaler 67mins), Houghton, Loft, Dack, McDonald (Donnelly 67mins), Norris. Subs not used: Williamson, G Morris, A Morris, Osadebe.

Colchester: Jones, Vincent-Young, Eastman, Kent, Briggs, Garvan, Edwards, Moncur (Gilbey 84mins) Massey, Sordell, Harriott (Ambrose 79mins). Subs not used: Parish, Harney, Sembie-Ferris, Szmodics, Bonne.

Attendance: 4,694 (1,171 away)

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