Published: 16:40, 16 February 2019
| Updated: 07:18, 18 February 2019
Gillingham clinched a much-needed three points with their first home league success of the year on Saturday.
Midfielder Mark Byrne fired the Gills infront with a crisp first-half strike.
His goal was enough to end a run of four league games without a win at Priestfield for the Gills and lift them back out of the League 1 drop zone.
Boss Steve Lovell labelled the match as ‘must win’ and made three changes to the team that started so badly the week before.
New signing Billy King was dropped to the bench, Josh Rees had been carrying a knock and wasn’t involved while captain Gabriel Zakuani was out with ankle ligament damage which has ended his season.
Leo Da Silva Lopes was among those brought into the eleven, the Wigan loanee making his first start for the club and he looked a class-act, setting up the opener for Byrne.
The first half was a much-improved effort from the Gills, linking up well and showing quality on the ball. That said, they still had an early let-off when Rory McArdle was allowed a free header at goal with just five minutes gone. Tomas Holy got a hand on the effort to keep it out.
From then on the Gills looked more solid in defence and creative at the other end.
Brandon Hanlan should have put the Gills infront, arriving onto a great low cross from Graham Burke, but he arrived too soon and the ball went under his body. He might not have got a goal in the game but his work-rate helped produce a number of chances, showing plenty of willingness upfront.
Max Ehmer had the ball in the net for the Gills, only to be flagged for offside, while Scunthorpe’s Tom Pearce stung Holy’s hands from distance.
The breakthrough came when Lopes cut in, evaded several challenges with a couple of step overs before laying the ball off for Byrne and the Irishman hit it perfectly, finding the bottom corner with half an hour gone.
Gillingham went into the break deservedly leading, although Holy was called upon again to deny Kevin Van Veen.
Byrne tried to find the bottom corner again in the second half but his shot fizzed just wide as the Gills looked to build on their advantage.
Scunthorpe forward Kyle Wootton glanced a headed effort wide and hit a shot just past the post with 20 minutes left, reminding the Gills that the game was far from over.
Hanlan and Tom Eaves kept the visiting defence on their toes but clear-cut chances for Lovell’s men proved hard to find.
Adam Hammill struck wide for Scunthorpe and Yasin Ben El-Mhanni’s introduction gave them extra energy upfront. As the game ticked towards the 90 minute mark the Gills sat deeper, inviting pressure.
Elliott List’s late introduction gave the Gills an outlet and he helped take the pressure off the defence. It was a nervy finish but Lovell’s men did enough to see the game out and take maximum points.
Gillingham: Holy, O’Neill, Fuller, Ogilvie, Ehmer, Bingham (Oldaker 63mins), Byrne, Lopes (Reilly 78mins), Burke (List 85mins), Hanlan, Eaves. Subs not used: Hadler, Charles-Cook, King, Parrett.
Scunthorpe: Alnwick, Sutton, McArdle, McMahon, McGahey, Pearce (El-Mhanni 79mins), Burgess, Thomas (Hammill 73mins), Ojo, Van Veen (Olomola 63mins), Wootton. Subs not used: Flatt, Webster, Lewis, Butroid.
More by this authorLuke Cawdell