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Gillingham 0 Bradford City 1 – match report

Gillingham failed to find the net again as they began their home campaign with a defeat.

Dominic Poleon opened the scoring for visitors Bradford but should have had a second, missing an open goal.

Conor Wilkinson was sent off in the second half on his first Gillingham start after a challenge on Bradford’s Timothee Dieng.

Josh Parker in action for Gillingham Picture: Andy Jones
Josh Parker in action for Gillingham Picture: Andy Jones

Tom Eaves netted with the last kick but was denied by the linesman's flag. Gills’ last goal was on the penultimate game of the previous season, starting this campaign with three successive blanks infront of goal.

Alex Lacey got over his knee injury in time to make his Gills debut in the club’s first home game of the season.

It was a strong-looking defence named by Ady Pennock. The Gills head coach chose to drop striker Tom Eaves and the versatile Scott Wagstaff to the bench.

Conor Wilkinson was sent off for Gillingham Picture: Andy Jones
Conor Wilkinson was sent off for Gillingham Picture: Andy Jones

The Gills lacked quality going forward in the opening half, relying on set-pieces to test the visitors. Parker forced keeper Colin Doyle into a reflex save as Mark Byrne’s throws were constantly won in the box by Ehmer.

But by then the Gills were already a goal down. Poleon had already caused the defence a few times before finding himself with plenty of space to sweep home Alex Jones’ cross in the 19 minute.

It was from an Ehmer mistake that City got the chance to double their lead. The Gills defender gave the ball away to Poleon, who rounded keeper Tomas Holy but then rolled the ball wide of the upright.

From almost going two-down, the Gills had the chance to level just before the break, but Lacey couldn’t get a decent connection on Martin’s well-placed free-kick and put the ball wide.

Max Ehmer challenges in the air Picture: Andy Jones
Max Ehmer challenges in the air Picture: Andy Jones

Gillingham made a bright start to the second half and Wilkinson felt he should have had a penalty, going down in the box when under pressure from visiting skipper Tony McMahon, but the referee waved away the appeals.

The Gills continued to pose problems from Byrne’s long throws but when Ehmer knocked down another flick there was nobody following in to test the keeper.

Parker looked like he was going to level just after the hour mark when racing onto a Luke O’Neill cross but stabbed wide when under pressure from a defender.

Wright headed a Martin corner over and with 15 minutes left Gills’ hopes faded when Wilkinson was sent off by referee John Busby for a strong challenge on Dieng. Many Gills fans felt the visiting player made too much of the challenge. The Bradford player jumped to his feet once the red card was shown.

Gillingham had the ball in the net with the final touch of the game, Martin’s free-kick was cleared to Wagstaff and when his ball in was converted by Eaves, up went the linesman’s flag, signalling offside.

Gillingham: Holy, O'Neill, Lacey (Eaves 63mins), Ehmer, Zakuani, Ogilvie, Byrne (Nash 89mins), Wright, Martin, Parker (Wagstaff 89mins), Wilkinson. Subs not used: Hadler, Oldaker, Hessenthaler, Cundle.

Bradford: Doyle, McMahon, Field, Kilgallon, Knight-Percival, Reeves, Law, Dieng, Jones (Gilliead 58mins), Patrick (Taylor 65mins), Poleon. Subs not used: Sattelmaier, McCartan, Pybus, Devine, Robinson

Attendance: 5,267 (521 away)

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