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Gillingham 5 Fleetwood Town 1 – match report

A first-half goal bonanza put an end to Gillingham’s mini slump.

The Gills cancelled out Bobby Grant’s opener for Fleetwood with four goals in 16 minutes.

Rory Donnelly struck twice and Jordan Hougton and John Egan also netted to put the Gills 4-1 up at the break.

Rory Donnelly orchestrates Gillingham's fightback before scoring the first of his two goals Picture: Barry Goodwin
Rory Donnelly orchestrates Gillingham's fightback before scoring the first of his two goals Picture: Barry Goodwin

Fleetwood had a man sent off late on and Cody McDonald wrapped up the win with the fifth.

Gillingham boss Justin Edinburgh resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes to a team which lost 2-0 at Barnsley on Saturday.

There were just two alterations to the starting XI, with Houghton and Donnelly replacing Ben Williamson and Emmanuel Osadebe. Williamson dropped out of the squad completely as Jermaine McGlashan returned to the bench.

Houghton had an early shot well saved by keeper Chris Maxwell but it wasn’t a convincing start from a Gills team looking to return to form after two straight defeats.

The visitors – backed by 37 away fans - took a 12th-minute lead when Bobby Grant’s free-kick took a slight deflection to deceive keeper Stuart Nelson and silence the home crowd.

It didn’t take the Gills long to equalise. Ryan Jackson’s throw was nodded on by Houghton and Donnelly did well to convert at the back post. The Gills looked like a different, more confident team, once the equaliser went in.

Luke Norris came close with an overhead kick but the Gills were 2-1 up on 28 minutes. Houghton started and ended the move, feeding the ball to Jackson and then heading home the resulting cross.

Three minutes later the Gills added a third. Ben Dickenson – who had conceded the free-kick which led to Fleetwood’s opener – sent in one of his own which the visitors couldn’t clear. Egan wrapped his foot around the ball and guided it past Maxwell.

It got even better for the Gills as they scored a fourth with another three minutes gone. Donnelly ran at the Fleetwood defence, jinked past a couple of tackles and floated the ball past Maxwell.

Norris had a good chance early in the second half when Maxwell let go of the ball on the edge of the box. Only a good block from Conor McLaughlin denied the Gills striker.

Fleetwood put Gills under some pressure, winning a series of corners, but were unable to get a goal back. It was a frustrating spectacle after such a thrilling first half.

Max Ehmer needed to make a good block from Jamie Proctor on 70 minutes as the visitors continued to press.

Fleetwood substitute Eggert Jonsson was sent off after two cautions, both for fouls, leaving the visitors to cope with 10 men in the final stages of the game. 

McDonald completed the win, latching onto a ball from Bradley Dack and smashing home in off the post. It was his first goal of the season and only a good save from Maxwell denied him a second in the last minute.

Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson (A Morris 45mins), Dickenson (Garmston 46mins), Ehmer, Egan, Wright, Loft, Houghton, Dack, Norris, Donnelly (McDonald 85mins). Subs: G Morris, Hessenthaler, McGlashan, Osadebe.

Fleetwood: Maxwell, Andrew, Bell, Jordan (Jonsson 46mins), McLaughlin, Della Verde, Ryan, Sowerby (Ball 64mins), Sarcevic, Grant, Matt (Proctor 64mins). Subs: Nirennold, McManus, Haughton, Arestidou.

Attendance: 5,231 (37 away)

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