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Tranmere Rovers 3 Gillingham 0 match report: Defeat for Gills in League 2

Gillingham suffered their second away defeat of the season in League 2 on Saturday.

They never looked comfortable at a dominant Tranmere, who picked up their first league win of the campaign in the process.

Gillingham's Ben Reeves on the ball against Tranmere on Saturday. Picture: KPI
Gillingham's Ben Reeves on the ball against Tranmere on Saturday. Picture: KPI

Gills boss Neil Harris named an unchanged side from last weekend’s home win over Rochdale.

There was a return to the bench for Stuart O’Keefe, along with Joe Gbode.

Gillingham had an early escape when they were caught napping down the right of their defence as early as the fourth minute and Tranmere worked the ball inside for skipper Kane Hemmings, whose delightful left-foot chip came back off the crossbar.

It was the conundrum before the game for boss Neil Harris, whether to switch to a back three and match up Tranmere, or keep to his trusted back four. He went for the latter but Gills were being exposed by Tranmere’s wing-backs too many times.

Paul Lewis crossed on 11 minutes for right wing-back Josh Dacres-Cogley, whose low drive was blocked behind for a corner by Ryan Law.

Then Jordan Green lost the ball cheaply on halfway, only for left wing-back Ethan Bristow to cross straight at keeper Glenn Morris.

The breakthrough came for Tranmere after 18 minutes. Gills lost the ball in Tranmere’s half from their own throw-in and one ball over the top caught them square, allowing Elliott Nevitt to go through, hold off the last defender, and fire low beyond Morris.

A drinks break allowed Gills to regroup and they seemed to get more into the game. A Ben Reeves free-kick was headed clear only as far as Green, who dragged his shot well wide.

Then a clever Scott Kashket header set up Green, who missed his kick, but Reeves shot over from the loose ball.

Scott Kashket on the ball for Gillingham at Tranmere. Picture: KPI
Scott Kashket on the ball for Gillingham at Tranmere. Picture: KPI

At the other end, Tranmere nearly added a second but the visiting fans behind the goal were thankful to see Nevitt prod the ball wide from an early Bristow left-wing cross.

Gills made the switch to three at the back in the second half, David Tutonda replacing Ryan Law.

It nearly had an immediate impact as two minutes after the restart, Green’s cross-shot hit the inside of the far post and somehow stayed out before being cleared behind for a corner.

Green was the dangerman for Gills, although he went down too easily under Kyle Jameson’s challenge in the box after 52 minutes and his penalty claims were quickly waved away by referee Scott Oldham.

Elkan Baggott went into the book for Gills on 54 minutes after a shirt-pull near halfway and Gills got their first sighting of O’Keefe on the hour mark when he replaced Lee, who had a quiet game in midfield.

Gillingham went 2-0 down immediately after a drinks break midway through the second half. With Max Ehmer off after receiving treatment, Tranmere took advantage and the ball was worked wide for Bristow, who smashed an unstoppable finish past Morris.

It went from bad to worse with 15 minutes left when Baggott and Kashket left the ball to each other to clear on the edge of the box and Dacres-Cogley gladly accepted the invitation to lift the ball over the stranded Morris.

Boss Harris utilised his five substitutes available, bringing on Alex MacDonald and Cheye Alexander for the final 10 minutes but the game was well and truly up. Tranmere were full of energy in the sunshine, the heat seemingly sapping everything out of a sorry Gills team that reverted to a back four again after the departure of Ehmer.

Green shot wide with six minutes left, Baggott nodding wide in stoppage time, and the stark truth was that home keeper Ross Doohan didn’t have an effort to save during a one-sided contest.

Tranmere: Doohan, Dacres-Cogley, Bristow, Merrie, Mcalear, Hemmings, Turnbull (Hawkes 77mins), Jameson, Byrne, Nevitt (Nolan 87mins), Lewis (Mumbongo 73mins). Subs not used: Hewelt, Hockenhull, Hughes, Lomax.

Gillingham: Morris, Wright, Law (Tutonda 46mins), Baggott, Ehmer (Walker 72mins), Williams, Lee (O’Keefe 60mins), Kashket (MacDonald 79mins), Reeves (Alexander 79mins), Green, Mandron. Subs not used: Turner, Gbode.

Referee: Scott Oldham.

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