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Gillingham 5 Plymouth Argyle 2 - League 1 match report

Tom Eaves netted his second home hat-trick of the season as Gillingham finished their season in style.

Josh Parker scored an early opener for the Gills and Eaves rammed the taunts from the away end down their throats as he netted twice before the break.

Eaves completed his hat-trick early in the second half, Plymouth got one back through Graham Carey but substitute Elliott List netted Gillingham’s fifth in stoppage-time to complete the scoring.

Tom Eaves puts the Gills 2-1 ahead Picture: Andy Payton (1860920)
Tom Eaves puts the Gills 2-1 ahead Picture: Andy Payton (1860920)

The Gills went into the match safe from relegation but boss Steve Lovell named an unchanged side for the game, looking to end a nine-game winless run.

Plymouth needed a win, and a big one, to stand any chance of making the play-offs. Hopes were gone by half-time.

Back in October both sides looks destined for relegation, with the Gills one off the bottom and Plymouth occupying the final spot in the league table.

While Steve Lovell has saved the Gills from life back in the basement division, Plymouth’s rise has been even more impressive under Derek Adams.

Plymouth needed a three-point and six-goal swing to overhaul Charlton in the final play-off spot and their chances were made more remote when Parker put the Gills ahead after just seven minutes.

Lee Martin slipped the ball to him on the left side of the area and Parker finished well with a rising shot beyond keeper Remi Matthews.

Tom Eaves gestures to the Plymouth fans after being taunted before his goals Picture: Andy Payton (1860922)
Tom Eaves gestures to the Plymouth fans after being taunted before his goals Picture: Andy Payton (1860922)

Despite Gills’ early goal and positive play, they allowed Plymouth back in with 23 minutes gone.

The ball took a ricochet from a free-kick to fall at the feet of Joel Grant and from close range he stabbed the ball home, after an initial effort was saved by Tomas Holy. Referee Brendan Malone - on his last game before retiring - ignored the raised flag from his assistant and awarded the goal.

That goal led to Plymouth taking control of the play, backed by a large visiting support singing “we’re going to win 6-1.” Those fans also mocking big striker Eaves were soon hushed.

Gills’ leading scorer Eaves put the Gills back infront just seven minutes later, netting with half an hour gone. The striker ran onto Max Ehmer’s ball forward and when defender Zak Vyner lost his footing, the front-man had just the keeper to beat, which he did in ruthless fashion.

Josh Parker puts the Gills ahead Picture: Andy Payton (1860936)
Josh Parker puts the Gills ahead Picture: Andy Payton (1860936)

Eaves took his season goal tally to 17 when he headed home a corner, meeting it at the far post and squeezing it in between the post and the keeper, to make it 3-1 Gills.

Plymouth were nervy at the back when play resumed after the break and Gillingham soon made it 4-1. Moments after Gabriel Zakuani nearly headed in from a corner, the Gills made one count. Ehmer flicked on and Eaves was there to nod in.

It was Eaves’ second hat-trick of the season, his first coming against Southend back in August.

Callum Reilly fired into the side netting soon after and Bradley Garmston stung the keeper’s hands as the Gills continued to press. Gillingham continued to boss the game and Reilly went close again with 15 minutes left, a shot rising just over the bar.

Plymouth still had some life in them and pulled a goal back on 77 minutes when Carey nodded home a corner.

Mark Byrne went close for the Gills but it was List who netted the fifth, with a great finish across the keeper, finding the bottom corner.

Gillingham’s player-of-the-year evening takes place on Saturday night. Follow kentonlinegills on twitter for updates as the prizes are handed out and a new sponsor revealed.

Gillingham: Holy, O’Neill, Garmston, Ehmer, Zakuani, Byrne, Reilly, Martin (Hessenthaler 65mins), Wagstaff, Parker (List 84mins), Eaves (Wilkinson 74mins). Subs not used: Hadler, Ogilvie, Nugent, Nasseri.

Plymouth: Matthews, Miller, Sawyer, Songo’o, Carey, Lameiras (Taylor-Sinclair 57mins), Bradley, Grant (Battle 78mins), Vyner, Fox, Fletcher (Sangster 57mins). Subs not used: Letheren, Law, Rooney, Lolos.

Attendance: 6,269 (1,460 away)

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