Published: 16:54, 22 September 2018
| Updated: 22:09, 22 September 2018
Gillingham lost a thriller at home against high-flying Peterborough United on Saturday.
The Gills were a goal behind at the break, Jamie Walker’s strike separating the sides, after an entertaining opening half.
It remained all-action in the second. Goals from Callum Reilly and Mark Byrne put the Gills ahead shortly after the restart but the visitors responded, with Siriki Dembele levelling and Ivan Toney putting United back infront.
Callum Cooke scored Peterborough’s fourth with two minutes of normal time remaining to seal the win.
Gills boss Steve Lovell made four changes to his starting eleven, with leading scorer Tom Eaves dropped to the bench as Brandon Hanlan returned to the line-up.
It was the goalkeepers who were stealing the limelight early on, with Tomas Holy making a spectacular one-handed block to deny Jason Naismith early on. He had also thwarted Marcus Maddison and Walker in the opening minutes.
At the other end Aaron Chapman pulled of a succession of blocks to deny Hanlan, Regan Charles-Cook and then Callum Reilly.
Charles-Cook’s return was a big plus for the Gills as they made a game of it against their high-flying opponents.
Despite Gills’ lively start, it was Peterborough who opened the scoring. A long ball forward caught the home defence out as Max Ehmer’s clearance fell to a Peterborough player and when Ivan Toney got a touch on Naismith’s cross, Walker was on hand unopposed to slot home.
Dean Parrett, playing as the defensive midfielder in a diamond midfield, was full of energy and his run and shot went close for the Gills. Toney, at the other end, headed a good chance wide for the visitors.
There was six minutes of stoppage time after Peterborough’s towering central defenders Ryan Tafazolli and Rhys Bennett collided heads. The match was relentless right up until the full-time whistle, with referee Lee Swabey frustrating both sets of fans for his interpretation of the advantage rule.
Peterborough felt they should have had a penalty late on, when Dembele went down inside the area after trying to get inbetween Mark Byrne and Barry Fuller. Mr Swabey said no, a decision that infuriated visiting bos Steve Evans.
The Gills lost Charles-Cook to injury early in the second half but they were level soon after.
A short corner found its way to Ehmer and he picked out Reilly, who from the edge of the box hit it first time with a crisp strike.
Three minutes later and the Gills were ahead, this time Byrne firing home from a bit further out, the shot too good for keeper Aaron Chapman.
Gillingham had their tails up and Parrett also tried his luck from the edge of the box but Chapman got his hands behind the shot.
Peterborough got themselves back on level terms through Dembele, who picked up Maddison’s ball into the box and struck the ball past Holy.
It wasn’t long before Peterborough were infront again, their third goal coming on 64 minutes as Gills were caught on the break, outnumbered at the back. Dembele played in Toney and he had time and space to pick a finish beyond Holy.
The Gills were hit on the counter attack for Peterborough’s fourth, on 88 minutes, the ball moved quickly to substitute Cooke, taking a touch before hitting an effort in off Holy.
Gillingham: Holy, Fuller, Ogilvie, Ehmer, Zakuani, Reilly (Rees 66mins), Parrett, Byrne, Charles-Cook (Eaves 49mins), Hanlan (Wilkinson 83mins), Parker. Subs not used: Hadler, O'Neill, Garmston, Lacey.
Peterborough: Chapman, Naismith, Daniel, Woodyard, Tafazolli (Yorewerth 46mins), Walker (O’Hara 73mins), Godden (Cooke 82mins), Dembele, Bennett, Toney, Maddison. Subs not used: Tyler, Reed, Ward, Cummings.