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Gillingham 0 Bradford 2: League 2 match report from Priestfield - Jamie Walker and Andy Cook on target for the visitors

A defensive mistake proved costly for Gillingham against Bradford City and there was no way back.

Jamie Walker put Bradford ahead at Priestfield, after Scott Malone’s weak pass handed them a chance, and despite the Gills putting the visitors under pressure from a flurry of second-half set-piece opportunities it was an Andy Cook free-kick that doubled their advantage.

Macauley Bonne in action for Gillingham against Bradford City Picture: @Julian_KPI
Macauley Bonne in action for Gillingham against Bradford City Picture: @Julian_KPI

Gillingham were back in league action for the first time since the end of November, back at home, where they had enjoyed plenty of success in 2023..

Head coach Stephen Clemence had enjoyed wins from his previous two home league matches at Priestfield, and in their last game had beaten League 1 Charlton in the FA Cup, but they found it tough against Bradford.

The Gills struggled to find the spark which lit up Priestfield during a super cup tie last time out against The Addicks.

Macauley Bonne thought he had given Gillingham a lead with 14 minutes gone, as his glancing header from Connor Mahoney’s corner at the near post looked goalbound, before a big hand from keeper Harry Lewis kept it out on the line.

Another Mahoney corner moments later was met by Ethan Coleman, heading it back to former Bradford man Tim Dieng but he fired over.

Gillingham went off the boil after the promising start and struggled to create anything significant for the rest of the half.

Ethan Coleman in the thick of it for Gillingham Picture: @Julian_KPI
Ethan Coleman in the thick of it for Gillingham Picture: @Julian_KPI

Clemence’s men found themselves a goal down in the 34th minute.

Goalkeeper Jake Turner played the ball to left-back Scott Malone but his ball back to Conor Masterson didn’t have enough on it, allowing Alex Gilliead to nip in and feed Brad Halliday who pulled it back for Walker to fire home unopposed from 12 yards.

Gillingham hadn’t won a point from their previous 20 league games when behind so there was little hope given to them on Saturday after conceding the opener.

The Gills kept Bradford under pressure during the start of the second half, with a number of free-kicks that the visitors were able to defend. The closest Gillingham came to scoring off one was when Max Ehmer nodded over from Williams’ ball in.

With an hour gone Clemence switched his forward line around, introducing Oli Hawkins for his first appearance of the season to play alongside Tom Nichols. Former Gills striker Vadaine Oliver came off the bench for the visitors.

Bradford striker Cook scored three against the Gills last season and once scored a hat-trick at Priestfield for Walsall so it was no surprise that he ended up on the scoresheet on Saturday.

The Gills had wasted their own chances from free-kicks and Cook took the no-nonsense approach from his own set-piece opportunity, firing in hard and low under the wall to double their advantage in the 75th minute.

Mahoney made a claim for a late penalty but the referee said no and the man who had challenge him, Richie Smallwood, indicated the Gills player had dived. It could have set up an interesting finale but it wasn’t to be.

Jayden Clarke did have the ball in the net for Gillingham on 90 minutes but the flag had already been raised for offside.

Max Ehmer for Gillingham against Bradford City Picture: @Julian_KPI
Max Ehmer for Gillingham against Bradford City Picture: @Julian_KPI

Gillingham: Turner, McKenzie, Malone, Masterson, Ehmer, Coleman (Jefferies 72mins), Dieng, Mahoney, Lapslie (Hawkins 61mins), J Williams (Clarke 72mins), Bonne (Nichols 61mins). Subs not used: Morris, Alexander, Ogie.

Bradford: Lewis, Halliday, Richards, Platt, Kelly, Tomkinson, Smallwood, Walker (Pattison 83mins), Gillead, Smith (Oliver 64mins), Cook (Osadebe 83mins). Subs not used: Doyle, Oduor, Stubbs, Derbyshire.

Referee: Scott Jackson

Attendance: 5,874 (370 away)

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