Published: 16:00, 31 October 2020
| Updated: 19:47, 31 October 2020
Gillingham slipped to a fifth straight defeat after conceding a controversial late penalty against Sunderland.
Jordan Graham had a penalty saved in the second half but Sunderland’s Chris Maguire scored his chance from 12 yards, six minutes from time, amid furious protests by the Gills management team who felt Charlie Wyke had dived to win the spot-kick. Lynden Gooch scored Sunderland’s second on the break in stoppage-time, as the Gills finished without a goal or point in their fifth match running.
Gillingham handed QPR loan goalkeeper Joe Lumley a debut while Vadaine Oliver returned upfront and Connor Ogilvie was back from suspension to replace Christian Maghomas at the heart of the Gills defence.
Dominic Samuel volleyed a chance over for the Gills early on and the hosts - without a goal in their previous four matches - started well.
Conditions were tough for both sides, heavy rain making the Priestfield pitch slippery, ideal conditions for a slide tackle. Referee Sam Purkiss showed inconsistency in what he deemed fair or too aggressive.
Josh Scowen wasted a great chance for the visitors once they finally settled into the match, lifting a close range effort over the bar and then missing the target again after doing so well to create another chance, turning to avoid a challenge from Kyle Dempsey before taking aim.
Connor Ogilvie also cleared an effort off the line but the teams went into the break on level terms.
The second half started quietly enough but burst to life on the hour. The Gills - guilty of not putting away their chances of late - had an opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot after Jackson was tripped by former Blues player Tom Flanagan.
Jordan Graham took the spot kick but fired too closely to Lee Burge, who made the save. Samuel should have stuck away the loose ball but from just a few yards out managed to fire over.
Moments later the Gills were then reduced to 10 men. The surface conditions weren’t ideal and when Alex MacDonald slid in on O’Nien, he took out the Sunderland man and referee Purkiss pulled out the red card.
Samuel had a couple of blocked shots before he was withdrawn while Aiden O’Brien stabbed a chance wide for Sunderland and Scowen missed another good chance, shooting over the bar.
Visiting striker Wyke went close to adding another to his impressive recent tally, denied by Lumley. Sunderland were making the most of the extra man and even Flanagan tried his luck, with a shot blocked by Zech Medley.
Sunderland in the end took the lead from the penalty spot. Medley was adjudged to have tripped Wyke in the box and Maguire sent loan keeper Lumley to wrong way to take the lead. Gills boss Steve Evans was booked for his protests, insisting the visiting forward had dived for the penalty.
The Gills were left feeling more hard done by when substitute John Akinde went down in the box moments later and nothing was given.
Sunderland wrapped up the points in stoppage-time, breaking on the Gills and scoring through Gooch.
Gillingham: Lumley, Jackson, Ogilvie, Tucker, Medley, McKenzie, MacDonald, Dempsey, Graham (Coyle 87mins), Samuel (Robertson 67mins), Oliver (Akinde 70mins). Subs not used: Walsh, Maghoma, Drysdale, Willock.
Sunderland: Burge, McLaughlin, Flanagan, Wright, O’Nien, Scowen (Maguire 81mins), Leadbitter, Hume, Wyke, O’Brien (Graham 69mins), Gooch. Subs not used: Matthews, Power, Sanderson, Graham, Diamond, Grigg.