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Gillingham 0 Portsmouth 1 – League 1 match report

A toothless Gills performance saw them beaten at home by Portsmouth.

Sean Clare had worthy penalty appeals turned down for the Gills during an opening half that lacked goalmouth action.

Matt Kennedy brought the game to life, scoring just 26 seconds after the restart for the visitors, but the Gills struggled to respond.

Josh Parker heads in but the goal is ruled out Picture: Andy Jones
Josh Parker heads in but the goal is ruled out Picture: Andy Jones

Reaction: Peter Taylor on their 1-0 home loss to Portsmouth

Josh Parker had an effort ruled out for off-side but the Gills ended the game without a meaningful shot at goal.

Finn O’Mara was named in the starting XI for the Gills, highlighting the lack of defensive options for interim boss Peter Taylor.

Bradley Garmston, Alex Lacey and Luke O’Neill were all out injured while Gabriel Zakuani was missing on international duty. An injury to Ben Nugent towards the end of the first half meant a debut for 17-year-old Jack Tucker.

O’Mara, 18, made his first start for the Gills during their midweek Checkatrade Trophy win, helping them to a clean sheet in the process.

Sean Clare goes down in the box but Gills don't get a penalty Picture: Andy Jones
Sean Clare goes down in the box but Gills don't get a penalty Picture: Andy Jones

Goals were a problem ahead of the match, with three blanks in their previous three league games.

Conor Wilkinson was back in the starting XI and hoping for his first goal of the season. Portsmouth had their own injury problems, missing nine-goal striker Brett Pitman. They were playing a striker in defence.

The opening half lacked spark, with neither team offering much up-front. Billy Bingham put a free-kick over the bar and Conor Wilkinson dragged an effort wide, with visiting keeper Luke McGee untroubled.

An early highlight was watching Gills keeper Tomas Holy try and replace a dislodged corner flag. With no support from the linesman, it was left for kitman Malcom Stedman to fix it. Malcolm got the biggest cheer of the half.

Conor Wilkinson loses out in attack Picture: Andy Jones
Conor Wilkinson loses out in attack Picture: Andy Jones

Gillingham were denied what appeared to be a clear-cut penalty, for a challenge from Oliver Hawkins on Sean Clare. The big appeals from the Gills were ignored by referee Christopher Sarginson.

The Gills were dealt a blow just before the break when towering defender Nugent was forced off with an injury after making a block to deny Curtis Main from breaking clear. Teenagers Tucker and O’Mara were to play the rest of the game alongside Max Ehmer.

Portsmouth took less than 30 seconds of the restart to take the lead when the ball came crashing off the woodwork, from a Main effort, and fell to Kennedy, who made no mistake from close-range.

With half an hour left, Taylor put Elliott List on upfront to play alongside the big man Wilkinson, in a bid to make them more potent.

Finn O'Mara on the ball for Gills Picture: Andy Jones
Finn O'Mara on the ball for Gills Picture: Andy Jones

The Gills did have the ball in the net with 65 minutes gone but the flag went up for offside as Parker headed past the keeper.

Gills fans showed their frustrations towards the end of the game, with many in the Rainham End chanting for chairman Paul Scally to go.

Matt Clarke headed narrowly wide for the visitors with three minutes left.

Gillingham had no answer going forward, putting in a couple of speculative balls into the box late on, but without testing McGee.

Gillingham: Holy, Parker, Ogilvie, O’Mara, Ehmer, Nugent (Tucker 45mins), Hessenthaler, Bingham, Martin (List 57mins), Clare (Oldaker 67mins), Wilkinson. Subs not used: Arnold, Simpson, Wagstaff, Nash.

Portsmouth: McGee, Thompson, Donohue (Haunstrup 68mins), Clarke, Hawkins, Close (Rose 82mins), O’Keefe, Kennedy, Bennett (Evans 82mins), Main, Lowe. Subs not used: Bass, Naismith, Talbot, Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Attendance: 8,163 (1,333 away)

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