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Plymouth Argyle 1 Gillingham 0: Luke Jephcott’s first half strike settles League 1 match at Home Park

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Gillingham started the new year how they ended the old one after losing on their travels.

Days after a 3-1 loss at Northampton they were left empty-handed again by another team sitting in the lower reaches of League 1. Luke Jephcott’s 33rd minute strike was enough for Plymouth as the Gills couldn’t find the equaliser their second half efforts deserved.

Gillingham manager Steve Evans' side were beaten at Plymouth by a single goal
Gillingham manager Steve Evans' side were beaten at Plymouth by a single goal

The Gills had been boosted pre-match by Jordan Graham’s return from injury and he went straight into the XI to support Vadaine Oliver, who was back in the starting line-up in place of John Akinde.

There was also a change in the heart of defence where Jack Tucker was replaced by Declan Drysdale.

Under dark skies and heavy rain, both sides had a number of half chances, the best of Gillingham’s early chances falling for Jordan Graham, hitting a volley at the keeper after Michael Cooper had punched a cross into his path.

Oliver had also headed wide after surprising Cooper by arriving late to meet a Tommy O’Connor cross.

The hosts had more opportunities in the opening half but struggled to find the target. Danny Mayor landed an effort on the roof of the net after trying to lob Jack Bonham with the score still goalless while it took a fine last-gasp challenge from Connor Ogilive from scoring after he had been picked out in space.

Plymouth took the lead in the 33rd minute and it looked a simple one. There was nobody close enough to stop the cross from the left that was swept home by Argyle’s leading goalscorer Jephcott who was given too much space to pick his spot.

Conor Grant had a shot claimed at the second attempt by Bonham, after the first was parried, while Cooper beat away and angled drive from Graham for the Gills.

There hadn’t been much between the sides but Plymouth took a goal lead into the break.

Bonham had to be alert early in the second half to save from Jephcott and it needed a sliding challenge from Ogilvie to prevent a super goal for Plymouth after they had worked their way into the area.

Gillingham boss Steve Evans made an early change in the second half, removing his defensive midfield pair of Scott Robertson and Josh Eccles for striker Akinde and Alex MacDonald.

Ogilvie headed a chance over for the Gills from a Graham free-kick and he curled in a couple more crosses, one that just dropped too far infront of Oliver and the other aimed at Akinde that was defended well.

A corner from O’Connor almost led to an own goal as the keeper missed a punch, the ball hitting Kell Watts and falling just the wrong side of the post for the Gills.

Graham kept putting the crosses in and struck the crossbar with one of them. The Gills had been dominant since the substitutions and the change of shape to 4-4-2 but the pressure couldn’t be turned into goals.

Gillingham substitute Willock missed a great chance to level in stoppage time when he met O'Connor's free-kick at the back post but headed over.

Plymouth: Cooper, Watts, Aimson, Canavan, Edwards, Hardie (Nouble 77mins), Mayor, Grant (Opoku 70mins), Macleod (Fornah 37mins), Camara, Jephcott (Telford 77mins). Subs not used: McCormick, Wootton, Moore.

Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, O’Connor, Drysdale, Ogilvie, Eccles (Akinde 52mins), Robertson (MacDonald 52mins), Dempsey, McKenzie (Willock 80mins), Graham, Oliver. Subs not used: Tucker, Coyle, Maghoma.

Referee: Sam Allison

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