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Gillingham 0 Colchester United 3: Fiacre Kelleher, Samson Tovide and Bradley Ihionvien on target in League 2 match at Priestfield; Ethan Coleman shown red card late on

Gillingham’s winning start to the season came to an abrupt end at Priestfield on Saturday.

Substitute Fiacre Kelleher smashed the ball home following a corner for Colchester and further goals came from Samson Tovide and Bradley Ihionvien during a devastating 18-minute spell in the second half for the Gills, who were beaten 3-0 and finished with 10 men after Ethan Coleman’s late red card.

Tom Nichols in action for Gillingham against Colchester United Picture: @Julian_KPI
Tom Nichols in action for Gillingham against Colchester United Picture: @Julian_KPI

Gillingham had been looking for a fifth straight win to start the season - something the club had never achieved before. They had won all of their first four games 1-0.

It was a bright start from the Gills against Colchester but they faded and the visitors proved ruthless in the second half.

Newly signed winger Connor Mahoney started for the Gills, one of two changes to the XI for Neil Harris’ table-topping side.

Tim Dieng was also brought back in and he had three chances in the opening stages of the first half against a Colchester side who had lost their opening three league games.

Dieng’s best opportunity came from a Mahoney corner, meeting it unchallenged as he raced in at the far post, but keeper Owen Goodman saved well.

Another header went wide from Dieng soon after and he failed to get enough on a right-footed shot when Tom Nichols picked him out in the box. Ashley Nadesan had done the hard work in the build-up to win possession.

Tim Dieng challenges Nico Lawrence for the ball Picture: @Julian_KPI
Tim Dieng challenges Nico Lawrence for the ball Picture: @Julian_KPI

Mahoney had shown some good early promise, almost putting Nadesan in on goal with an angled 60-yard pass. Smashing a clearance into a home fan wasn’t so wise but there was no harm done, with smiles all round.

Colchester’s best early chance fell to Tovide, finding space in the box after trading passes with Arthur Read, but the shot was saved by Jake Turner.

It was a half that promised plenty in the early stages but there was little of note in the latter stages of the first 45.

Colchester’s Joe Taylor was booked for protesting after being shoved off the ball inside the box from Cheye Alexander. It was a borderline challenge that went Gills’ way, much to the away player’s frustration.

Visiting player Junior Tchamadeu also went into the referee’s notebook following a dive inside the box, under pressure from Scott Malone.

Tom Nichols’ penalty appeals early in the second half came to nothing after going to ground in the box. The Gills had looked bright from the restart.

Referee Thomas Kirk had a big call to make when Taylor ran into the back of Shad Ogie, for a foul. The Colchester man looked like he was fearing the worst but a second booking didn’t materialise. On a final warning, the United manager replaced him moments later.

Scott Malone. Gillingham v Colchester United Picture: @Julian_KPI
Scott Malone. Gillingham v Colchester United Picture: @Julian_KPI

Colchester might have been forced to make their changes earlier than wanted but they helped get them in the game.

The visitors enjoyed a good spell with an hour gone and it needed a timely interception from Shaun Williams to deny substitute Ihionvien inside the box.

Colchester took the lead in the 64th minute, scoring from a corner as another sub Kelleher smashed in the loose ball after the Gills had blocked efforts from Tovide and Ihionvien before that. It was the first goal in the league conceded by Harris’ men.

Gills sub Macauley Bonne went close with a glancing header that keeper Goodman had to get a glove to but Colchester added a second with 15 minutes left, Tovide firing home from 12 yards into the bottom corner.

Ihionvien looked offside as he raced onto a ball forward but the flag stayed down and the Colchester forward finished well over Turner to seal the win for the visitors with 82 minutes gone.

A bad day for the Gills ended with Ethan Coleman being shown a red card for a challenge late on.

Gillingham: Turner, Alexander (McKenzie 80mins), Malone, Ehmer, Ogie, S Williams (Coleman 68mins), Dieng (Clarke 80mins), J Williams, Mahoney (Masterson 89mins), Nichols, Nadesan (Bonne 68mins). Subs not used: Morris, Chambers.

Colchester: Goodman, Greenidge, Hall, Tovide (Kazeem 86mins), Chilvers, Read, Egbo, Tchamadeu (Newby 55mins), Lawrence (Kelleher 45mins), Taylor (Ihionvien 55mins), Fevrier. Subs not used: Smith, Jay, Bandeira.

Referee: Thomas Kirk

Attendance: 6,991 (314 away)

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