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Tranmere 3 Gillingham 1: League 2 match report from Prenton Park | Connor Mahoney on target after Rob Apter (2) and Connor Jennings score for Rovers

Gillingham endured a miserable trip to a Tranmere side who started the afternoon third from bottom in League 2.

The Gills went behind shortly before the break after gifting Rob Apter an opener and two goals in a seven-minute spell early in the second half left Stephen Clemence’s men with too much to do. Connor Mahoney scored in stoppage time direct from a free-kick, a consolation goal in a 3-1 defeat.

Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence tasted defeat at Tranmere Picture: @Julian_KPI
Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence tasted defeat at Tranmere Picture: @Julian_KPI

More: Boss insists team will improve after defeat

Tranmere had picked up some positive recent results prior to the game, albeit against clubs below them, winning on their previous home outing against Forest Green and picking up a point at Sutton.

The Gills were buoyed by a win of their own, beating Salford in their last game, and were looking to build on that with head coach Stephen Clemence talking pre-match about the importance of building momentum.

Scott Malone returned from injury at left-back for the Gills as the only change from the team which started against Salford.

Gillingham were playing some patient stuff in the opening half and had the majority of the ball, with several chances coming from the left flank. It was a game that took some time to come to life with neither keeper troubled in the opening stages.

Gills tried their luck a couple of times from distance but neither Connor Mahoney or Shad Ogie went close.

The visitors had been unable to make the most of some good early openings as they didn’t have the players in the dangerous areas to make it count.

A double save from Luke McGee denied Scott Malone and Tom Nichols in quick succession, which was the closest they came to scoring in the first 45.

Prior to McGee’s double save the home side got in on goal through Kristian Dennis with almost half an hour gone. It was the first time the Gillingham defence had been unlocked but the Tranmere man was wasteful with the finish.

Rovers almost made the most of the Gills being a man short, having briefly lost Conor Masterson after he had gone off following a foul. The hosts surged forward with a man advantage and Apter fired wide.

The Tranmere forward wasn’t so generous to the Gills when he had another chance late in the half.

Apter finished well as Cheye Alexander and Ogie were left debating between themselves as to how they had let him in with a chance, having both chased a ball over the top, inadvertently knocking it into the path of the Tranmere man. He found the net at Jake Turner’s near post for a 43rd minute lead.

The Gills had seen plenty of the ball, with over 60% possession in the half, but had been unable to find the net and apart from when McGee was forced into his double save they hadn’t looked like scoring.

Prior to the match the Gills had been behind at the break on six previous occasions in the league and lost all of them. This one was to be no different.

Tranmere added a second goal nine minutes after the restart as Connor Jennings got in front of Alexander, who was caught between two home players, to head home Brad Walker’s cross.

It got worse for the Gills with an hour gone as Apter received the ball on the edge of the box and cut inside before drilling a low shot past Turner for 3-0.

The Gills made changes straight away and one of the substitutes, Tim Dieng, forced keeper McGee into a save moments after his introduction. Nichols also had a shot deflected wide as the visitors committed men forward.

Gillingham’s best moments came at 3-0 down, with Coleman stinging the hands of the home keeper and Macauley Bonne - on for Nichols - glancing a header wide from a corner.

Goalkeeper McGee tipped over a late effort from Malone as the Gills kept going and they finally had a goal when from 25 yards Mahoney bent home a free-kick in the first of seven added-on minutes.

Gillingham: Turner, Alexander, Malone, Masterson, Ogie, Coleman, Jefferies, Mahoney, Lapslie (Clarke 62mins), J Williams (Dieng 62mins), Nichols (Bonne 72mins). Subs not used: Morris, Clark, Ehmer, S Williams.

Tranmere: McGee, O’Connor, Davies, Turnbull (Yarney 81mins), Wood, Apter (Hawkes 88mins), Walker (McAlear 81mins), Hendry, Morris (Saunders 88mins), Jennings, Dennis. Subs not used: Robson, Leake, Pike.

Referee: Marc Edwards

Attendance: 6,431

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