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Harrogate Town 5 Gillingham 1: League 2 match report from the Envirovent Stadium, Wetherby Road

Gillingham’s play-off hopes were left all but over after throwing away the advantage at Harrogate.

George Lapslie had put Gillingham ahead late in the first half but Harrogate stormed back after the break with three goals in a ten-minute spell to turn the match on its head. Jack Muldoon and Abraham Odoh added stoppage-time efforts to make it 5-1.

Gillingham's first-team head coach Stephen Clemence Picture: @Julian_KPI
Gillingham's first-team head coach Stephen Clemence Picture: @Julian_KPI

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Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence stuck with the same eleven which had started so well on the Friday before fading and playing out a goalless draw with Crewe.

Heading into Easter Monday’s game with just one win in six, a victory was almost a must for the Gills at a Harrogate side with just one win in 10.

Clemence’s side started the afternoon hanging onto seventh place in League 2 but their hosts maintained a slim chance of making the play-off themselves. The Gills needed at least one win over the Easter period to stay in the hunt but took just a point from the two games.

Four wins from their remaining four games could still give the Gills hope of making the play-off but on current form and performances that isn’t going to happen.

Gillingham made a positive start but their chances lacked the quality to unsettle the home keeper as he made a few routine saves early on.

Home defender Rod McDonald attempted an overhead kick that sailed over the Gills bar but went closer later in the half with a downward header from a corner that forced Glenn Morris into a reflex save. The loose ball was hooked clear.

The Gills survived the home side’s brief spell of pressure and Harrogate’s Matty Fouls almost turned a Max Clark cross into his own net at the other end.

The Gills took a one-goal lead into the break when Levi Sutton diverted Hutton’s cross at his own goal, under pressure from Lapslie, and the Gills man was quickest to react when keeper James Belshaw saved.

Lapslie nodded the ball back across goal and into the empty net for a 41st-minute lead.

Gillingham dealt with a couple of early second-half set-pieces from Town and a free-kick from George Thomson was fired over when well positioned.

The Gills struggled to get going in the half and Town were level with an hour gone. Home substitute Odoh was fouled by Hutton as he looked to get past the defender and although the free-kick was cleared, O’Connor remained well-placed to head in as the ball came back into the box.

With 65 minutes played the Gills made a trio of like-for-like substitutions to try and get them going as George Thomson sent one shot dipping over the bar for Town and dragged another wide.

Eighth minutes after scoring their first, the hosts were ahead. Gillingham conceded possession through Masterson in a dangerous place and Daly composed himself well to finish past Morris.

Daly made it 3-1 two minutes after his first, reacting sharply to fire home after Morris had got a hand to Josh March’s cross.

The Gills hadn’t threatened at all going forward in the second half - producing arguably one of their worst 45 minutes of the season even before the late goals made it worse - as Harrogate’s goal flurry sucked any remaining life out of the visitors.

Morris denied March from making it four for Harrogate in the last minute as he raced through on goal but the hosts took full advantage as the Gills completely crumbled late on.

The Gills keeper couldn’t do anything about Muldoon’s rasping stoppage-time effort to make it 4-1. A long ball forward from the Harrogate keeper and a quick one-two was enough to undo the visiting defence again.

Odoh made it even worse for the Gills as he ran into space before beating Hutton with his run and firing in the fifth. Those goals coming on 93 and 95 minutes.

League 2 table

Gillingham: Morris, Hutton, Clark, Masterson, Ehmer, Coleman, Dieng (McKenzie 65mins), Lapslie (Walker 76mins), J Williams (Clarke 65mins), Mahoney, Hawkins (Andrews 65mins). Subs not used: Turner, Malone, Ogie.

Harrogate: Belshaw, Sivi (Odoh 53mins), Burrell (Abu 61mins), O’Connor, McDonald, Foulds, Daly (Muldoon 79mins), Sutton, Dooley (Cornelius 53mins), March, Thomson. Subs not used: Oxley, Folarin, Falkingham.

Referee: Simon Mather

Attendance: 3,133 (683 away)

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