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Sunderland 1-0 Gillingham: Luke O’Nien headed against the crossbar at the Stadium of Light before Nathan Broadhead scores stoppage-time winner

Gillingham were denied a point at Sunderland after conceding in the 95th minute.

Defences were on top during a goalless opening half and the Gills looked to be holding out at the Stadium of Light before Nathan Broadhead headed home at the death.

Gillingham were up against Sunderland in League 1
Gillingham were up against Sunderland in League 1

Defeat leaves the Gills two points above the relegation places.

Eight first team players were missing for Gillingham from a small squad and it meant a first start for youth team midfielder Josh Chambers, playing as captain Stuart O’Keefe missed out with injury. Just five substitutes from a possible seven were named.

Chambers ended up limping off after 70 minutes following a good shift on his full debut.

Gills keeper Aaron Chapman didn’t have a great deal to do in the opening half despite Sunderland having over 80% possession. The nearest the hosts got to scoring was when Luke O’Nien nodded a deep cross onto the top of the crossbar.

Just two shots on target in the first half for Sunderland was testament to Gillingham’s hard work defensively and the way they stayed solid for the majority.

The hosts didn’t give much away either, defending their box well, as Ryan Jackson hurled in a few long throws and Olly Lee had a corner that came to nothing.

Gillingham’s best chance fell to Charlie Kelman, the young striker letting the ball bounce once before having a go from an angle, aiming to beat the keeper at his near post. He wasn’t far off.

Gills keeper Chapman held onto a tame effort from Jack Clark, fisted clear a free-kick and beat away a shot from wide-man Patrick Roberts. A few times the hosts tried their luck from distance, Alex Pritchard getting closer to the goal than Clark’s wayward 30-yard drive.

Hard work had got the Gills to the halfway stage still in the game.

Going forward Gillingham had offered little and Sunderland were having to play a patient game at the start of the second half as the visitors continued to frustrate them.

Jackson tried to make something happen with another long throw but again Sunderland got it clear.

With no way through, Pritchard tried to pick out the top corner from 20 yards for Sunderland, but his curled effort went wide. It was the start of a shift in gear for the hosts as they looked to get at Gills from the flanks.

Gillingham were living dangerously from a trio of corners, two of which were cleared at their near post, the third headed out by striker Vadaine Oliver, as so often the man to get the ball away from his own box.

The home side continued to probe and Dennis Cirkin stung the hands of Chapman. With 20 minutes left Sunderland looked to increase the pressure further with a triple change.

There were some more nervy moments for the Gills and Ben Reeves was introduced as Chambers hobbled off. Gillingham needed someone to get on the ball and carry them forward to give the defence a break.

Sunderland were finding more space as they attacked in numbers and substitute Nathan Broadhead wasted a great chance with just Chapman to beat, sending his shot over the bar.

Reeves made a couple of crucial interceptions inside his own box as Sunderland kept knocking. Jack Tucker had cleared countless balls out of the box throughout and he made a goal-saving challenge on 93 minutes as Ross Stewart looked favourite to finish off a low cross.

Tucker was beaten to the ball in the final minute, however, as Broadhead made up for his earlier miss and pounced on a cross from fellow substitute Elliot Embleton to head in from close range, winning it for Sunderland.

Sunderland: Patterson, Evans, Batth, O’Nien (Embleton 69mins), Stewart, Winchester (Gooch 69mins), Cirkin, Pritchard (Broadhead 69mins), Clark, Wright, Roberts. Subs not used: Hoffmann, Xhemajli, Neil, Matete.

Gillingham: Chapman, Jackson, Tutonda, Ehmer, Masterson, Tucker, Lee, Chambers (Reeves 73mins), Thompson, Oliver, Kelman (Akehurst 90mins). Subs not used: Dahlberg, Maghoma, Dickson-Peters

Referee: Oliver Langford

Attendance: 31,619

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