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Match report: Accrington Stanley 0 Gillingham 2

Gillingham kicked off their League 1 campaign with a win at Accrington.

Goals from Brandon Hanlan and Josh Parker put the Gills two goals ahead in the first half.

Steve Lovell’s men defended well after the break to ensure the three points returned to Kent with victory over last season’s League 2 champions.

Accrington v Gillingham action Picture: Ady Kerry (3433140)
Accrington v Gillingham action Picture: Ady Kerry (3433140)

Summer signings Hanlan, Regan Charles-Cook and Dean Parrett all started for the Gills at Accrington.

Last season’s leading scorer Tom Eaves, who missed most of the pre-season games through injury, was named on the bench.

Reaction: It could have been more, says Gills boss Lovell

The Gills came under early pressure from Accrington, a team who hadn’t lost at home since December, but it was the visitors who forced the first save of the match, Mark Byrne coming close from 20 yards.

Max Ehmer needed to be alert to deny Sean McConville, heading his effort off the line. Seconds later, at the other end, Parker put a good chance over after being picked out by Byrne.

Accrington v Gillingham action Picture: Ady Kerry (3433137)
Accrington v Gillingham action Picture: Ady Kerry (3433137)

The opening goal came on 23 minutes and Billy Bingham played a crucial role, running at the Accrington defence before picking out the run of Charles-Cook, who in turn found Hanlan and he slid the ball home.

Jordan Clark should have levelled on the half hour, putting a shot wide after reading a cross well and beating Bradley Garmston to the ball.

Hanlan could have scored Gills’ second, squaring for a team-mate instead of shooting at goal himself, as once again his pace caused Accrington’s defence to panic.

It wasn’t long before the Gills did double their lead, Parker heading home a Luke O’Neill cross with 43 minutes gone, after beating Callum Johnson to the ball.

Accrington v Gillingham action Picture: Ady Kerry (3433131)
Accrington v Gillingham action Picture: Ady Kerry (3433131)

O’Neill forced keeper Jonny Maxted into a save early in the second half but the hosts were dominating much of the possession as they looked for a way back into the match.

Accrington captain Seamus Conneely headed a chance wide and Sam Finley fired a shot over the home end. Ben Richards-Everton put the ball wide for a corner, moments after Gills sub Tom Eaves had done the same infront of the away end.

Ross Sykes almost got a got a goal back in stoppage-time, heading a corner goalwards, but O'Neill hooked the ball off the line.

Accrington: Maxted, Johnson (Finley 61mins), Hughes, Sykes, Richards-Everton, Conneely, Brown, Clark, McConville, Jackson (Zanzala 81mins), Kee. Subs not used: Warner, Platt, Sousa, Rodgers, Mingoia.

Gillingham: Holy, O'Neill, Garmston, Ehmer, Zakuani, Bingham, Byrne, Charles-Cook, Parrett, Hanlan (Eaves 70mins), Parker. Subs not used: Hadler, Fuller, Simpson, Nasseri, Stevenson, Nash.

Attendance: 2,201 (418 away)

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