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Newport County 1 Gillingham 0: Will Evans scores 19th goal of the season in League 2 match at Rodney Parade

A superb strike was enough to send Gillingham home from Newport with nothing to show for their efforts.

Newport County’s Will Evans volleyed his side ahead on the hour with his 19th league goal of the season while the Gills struggled to unlock the home defence.

Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence Picture: @Julian_KPI
Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence Picture: @Julian_KPI

Reaction: Defeat hard to take

Defeat means it’s now just one win in six for the Gills as their play-off chase suffered another blow.

Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence had made two changes to his starting line-up as George Lapslie and Connor Mahoney returned to the XI ahead of Josh Walker and Jonny Williams.

There was disappointment among fans at the absence of exciting loan forward Jorge Hurtado, who was understood to have picked up an injury ahead of the weekend game. The Gills were missing that spark for much of Saturday’s game.

Better news for Gillingham was that defender Shad Ogie had surprisingly made the team following his midweek injury, picked up while preventing a goal against Swindon Town and taking a blow to the groin area.

Ogie battled well against Newport’s leading scorer Evans during the opening half, leaving the dangerous front-man on the deck on a couple of occasions and arguing against the rough treatment. The striker would be smiling later in the game, however.

League 2 table

The opening 45 minutes at Rodney Parade failed to produce many clear-cut opportunities for either side. The best fell to the hosts as Seb Palmer-Houlden glanced wide from Adam Lewis’ excellent cross.

For the Gills, there were numerous half-chances as Tim Dieng and Mahoney had shots blocked while an effort from Oli Hawkins was comfortably saved by keeper Nick Townsend.

Defender Conor Masterson looked to continue his scoring form with a chance at the far post, saved well by the home goalie, but the flag was up for offside anyway.

When Newport’s prolific forward Evans did get free from his marker, he almost put his strike-partner Palmer-Houlden in on goal, but Jake Turner was alert and raced out to claim the ball.

Two evenly matched teams went in level at the break, with fans hoping for better entertainment in the second half.

Clemence looked to change it around by bringing Ashley Nadesan on at the break for Lapslie.

The Gills were thwarted early in the second half as Mahoney and Remeao Hutton had shots blocked while Gills’ keeper Jake Turner got behind a Bryn Morris effort at the other end to keep it level. Max Ehmer was also left frustrated as a penalty appeal was waved away.

Evans was to get his goal and put Newport ahead in the 61st minute, connecting onto Harry Charsley’s cross and with a left-footed volley sending the ball beyond the reach of Turner.

Hawkins headed wide for the Gills before Clemence again tried something different to get his side firing. Jonny Williams replaced defender Ogie with 20 minutes left.

Dieng was denied an equaliser by keeper Townsend’s fine save after a great ball in from Mahoney and with 10 minutes left Clemence made a triple change in another attempt to break open the home side’s defence.

Mahoney and Ethan Coleman both had shots blocked late on as Newport’s defence continued to frustrate the Gills.

Gillingham: Turner, Masterson, Ehmer, Ogie (J Williams 72mins), Hutton, Clark (Malone 80mins), Coleman, Dieng (Clarke 80mins), Lapslie (Nadesan 46mins), Mahoney, Hawkins (Walker 80mins). Subs not used: Morris, McKenzie.

Newport: Townsend, Baker, Clarke, Bennett, McLoughlin, Lewis, Morris, Wildig (Jameson 83mins), Charsley (Bondswell 90+2mins), Evans, Palmer-Houlden (Zanzala 88mins). Subs not used: Maxted, Payne, Waite, Jephcott.

Referee: Ollie Yates

Attendance: 4,724 (580 away)

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