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Match report: Gillingham 3 Burton Albion 1

By Luke Cawdell

Gillingham made it two wins from two in League 1 after coming from behind on Saturday.

Tom Eaves cancelled out Liam Boyce’s effort as a lively first half ended level.

Brandon Hanlan was unlucky not to score, hitting the woodwork either side of the interval and it was down to Luke O’Neill to put the GIlls ahead, scoring from a free-kick.

Tom Eaves and Bradley Garmston celebrate a goal for Gillingham Picture: Ady Kerry
Tom Eaves and Bradley Garmston celebrate a goal for Gillingham Picture: Ady Kerry

Eaves scored the vital third, netting his second of the match as the Gills picked up another three points.

Gillingham boss Steve Lovell named an unchanged starting eleven for the match following an opening day win at Accrington.

The Gills were wearing their 125th year commemorative kit for the match but it was the visitors who had the better of the early exchanges, Max Ehmer beating Joe Sbarra to a header and Luke O’Neill with a timely interception as Burton again threatened. Gills keeper Tomas Holy also saved from Sbarra.

Visiting keeper Stephen Bywater, a former Gills loanee, was controlling his box well but almost gifted Josh Parker a chance, hitting a clearance straight at the home striker.

Gillingham in action against Burton Albion, Regan Charles-Cook on the ball. Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham in action against Burton Albion, Regan Charles-Cook on the ball. Picture: Ady Kerry

Burton took the lead just as the Gills started to take charge, with Regan Charles-Cook’s pace causing problems. He was denied on the edge of the box by Bywater and moments later got past defender Kyle McFadzean and crossed for Billy Bingham, only for John Brayford to block the effort.

It was Burton who went ahead, taking a 26th minute lead when Boyce got a head to a corner and despite Holy’s best efforts, the ball crept in at the far post.

Gillingham had to make an enforced change when Dean Parrett picked up an injury and it was substitute Eaves who levelled, scoring with his first touch. Hanlan sprinted forward before picking out the big Gills striker with a great low cross which was tucked home with 10 minutes of the half left.

The Gills came agonisingly close to taking a lead into the break at the end of an entertaining first half. McFadzean lost a battle on the edge of the box with the impressive Hanlan and the Gills man thumped a shot against the bar.

Gillingham striker Tom Eaves in action against Burton Albion Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham striker Tom Eaves in action against Burton Albion Picture: Ady Kerry

It was a tale of two free-kicks at the start of the second half. Bradley Garmston whipped in the first with his left foot, which Bywater saved. Soon after the Gills had another chance, in a similar position, but despite Garmston eyeing it up again, O’Neill took it, catching the keeper in two minds with a curling effort into the top corner.

Hanlan went close again for the Gills on the hour, hitting the upright after running onto Charles-Cook’s throughball. Bingham put the loose ball wide.

At the other end it needed a super block from captain Gabriel Zakuani to deny Sbarra as the visitors counter attacked. Burton had a good spell and Holy needed to save well to deny Scott Fraser. He also held onto a Lucas Atkins shot.

The pressure counted for nothing as the Gills found a crucial third, scoring on 77 minutes. Hanlan was unlucky again, denied by the keeper as he looked to find the far corner, but Eaves was there to turn the ball home.

The Bywater vs Hanlan show continued, with the Burton keeper twice denying Hanlan in as many minutes. Hanlan was a constant threat but a deserved goal just wouldn’t come.

Gillingham: Holy, O'Neill, Garmston, Ehmer, Zakuani, Bingham, Byrne, Parrett (Eaves 33mins), Charles-Cook, Hanlan, Parker. Subs not used: Hadler, Lacey, Eaves, Fuller, Nasseri, Nash, Stevenson.

Burton: Bywater, Brayford, McFadzean (Buxton 83mins), Turner, Fraser (Templeton 78mins), Sbarra, Atkins, Fox, McCrory (Hutchinson 17mins), Sordell, Boyce. Subs not used: Campbell, Harness, Hodge.

Attendance: 5,016 (181 away)

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