Published: 14:45, 06 March 2021
| Updated: 19:06, 06 March 2021
Vadaine Oliver struck twice in the second half as Gillingham got the better of promotion chasing Ipswich Town.
Jack Tucker’s first Football League goal gave the Gills a deserved lead at the break and although Ipswich levelled midway through the second half Oliver restored the advantage before sealing it moments later.
Ipswich arrived in good form after winning their previous three and with a new manager in the dugout, Paul Cook vowing to fight for the top two places this season after a disappointing spell in the third tier for the club under previous boss Paul Lambert.
Gillingham finished above Ipswich Town last season but inconsistency has cost Steve Evans’ side the chance of challenging with those teams in and around the play-offs this term. Could that now be changing?
A Big midweek win over MK Dons came after an impressive performance on the road at Portsmouth. This was another fine effort.
The Gills started positively and took an early lead. Tucker claimed the opener with a well struck effort, finding the net on the volley after fellow centre-half Robbie Cundy had flicked on Tommy O’Connor’s free-kick.
Gillingham felt they should have had the chance to extend the lead from the penalty spot when Jordan Graham was tripped as he burst into the penalty area. Referee Graham Salisbury signalled for a free-kick on the edge of the box and the Gills were unable to make anything from the set-piece.
The hosts continued to boss the half, winning their individual battles and a terrific effort from Olly Lee went close, turning on the edge of the box and leaving keeper Tomas Holy flat footed as the shot crashed off the upright.
Town did have a spell of their own, midway through the half, with Josh Harrop having a shot blocked and Troy Parrott hitting the woodwork himself with an acrobatic effort from Keanan Bennetts’ cross.
Goalscorer Tucker had handled himself well, buoyed by his early goal, but he got caught out by a long ball forward that James Norwood ran onto. The Ipswich man looked odds-on to unleash a shot as he only had Jack Bonham to beat but defender Tucker made a perfectly timed last-gasp challenge to deny him a shooting chance.
Gillingham regained their superiority before the break and were well worthy of their advantage.
Gillingham looked to start the second half as they did the first and Vadaine Oliver fired narrowly wide early on. Oliver would have had a better chance moments later inside the box but for a fine challenge from James Wilson.
Ipswich levelled in controversial circumstances. A challenge from Stuart O’Keefe was deemed a free-kick by referee Salisbury, something the Gills manager was livid with and his anger only rose when Harrop’s delivery was met by Chambers and his looping header drew the scores level.
Ipswich hit the woodwork again when substitute Kayden Jackson’s looping header hit the crossbar.
Ipswich were then undone by two goals in seven minutes from Oliver.
His first was scored in the 73rd minute when a cross from Dempsey - after combining well with Graham down the flank - was swept home by the striker.
Visiting keeper Holy was then beaten again with 10 minutes left, the visiting defence at a loss to deal with the Gills attacking them in numbers, allowing Oliver to pick his spot with a fine finish. Moments before the third goal Holy had to race out to deny Oliver and substitute John Akinde was unable to capitalise with the keeper well off his line.
Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, Ogilvie, Tucker, Cundy, O'Keefe, Dempsey, O'Connor (McKenzie 90mins), Graham (MacDonald 90mins), Lee (Akinde 80mins), Oliver. Subs not used: Bastien, Willock, Johnson, Morton
Ipswich: Holy, Dozzell (Jackson 73mins), Harrop (Downes 68mins), Chambers, Wilson, Bishop, Nsiala, Kenlock, Bennetts (Edwards 68mins), Parrott (Sears 68mins), Norwood. Subs not used: Cornell, Woolfenden, Ward.
Referee: Graham Salisbury