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Walsall 4 Gillingham 1: Interim manager Keith Millen sent off in League 2 defeat for managerless Gills at the Poundland Bescot Stadium | Hat-trick for Isaac Hutchinson

Gillingham’s poor form on the road continued with a heavy defeat at Walsall on Saturday.

Managerless Gills had interim boss Keith Millen sent off early on for tripping a Walsall player as he went to take a throw and things went from bad to worse on the pitch.

Final whistle as Gillingham are beaten 4-1 at Walsall in the league
Final whistle as Gillingham are beaten 4-1 at Walsall in the league

The hosts eventually ran out comfortable winners with Issac Hutchinson scoring three and setting up another as the Gills defence just couldn’t handle him. Macauley Bonne scored on a disappointing day for Gillingham, losing 4-1.

Gillingham aren’t rushing to appoint a new manager but on this evidence they might need to. According to the locals former Birmingham City boss John Eustace was among the crowd.

A run of three straight away defeats prior to the weekend trip to Walsall was no doubt one of the reasons Neil Harris was sacked. Stand-in manager Millen had hoped to end that run against a Walsall side who were beaten 4-0 on their previous league outing, but it wasn’t to be.

Captain Shaun Williams was back for the Gills, one of several players making a return to the side, as the club’s injury problems eased.

The Gills struggled to keep possession early on and it needed a last-ditch challenge from Shad Ogie to stop Tom Knowles getting in on goal. Moments later he got the better of Freddie Draper, with the Walsall man ending up 10 yards away after bouncing off the Gills defender.

Gillingham started to settle and Tom Nichols went close when Ogie’s throw was flicked on.

Things took a turn for the worse when Millen was sent to the stands by referee Charles Breakspear, tripping over a Walsall player as he looked to take a quick throw. The official was quick to pull out his red card.

It left goalkeeper coach Deren Ibrahim to direct things from the dugout, with youth boss Mark Moss assisting.

Shortly after the dismissal, the Gills conceded. Walsall scored twice in five minutes as Gillingham failed to make a decent challenge around their own box.

Hutchinson got away from Shaun Williams to score the first from the edge of the box in the 34th minute.

Interim Gillingham manager Keith Millen was sent off on Saturday Picture: @Julian_KPI
Interim Gillingham manager Keith Millen was sent off on Saturday Picture: @Julian_KPI

The second goal wasn’t a good look either, Hutchinson once again getting away from the Gills captain and playing a ball to his left where Draper was in space to fire home.

Gillingham were unlucky not to have got on the scoresheet themselves. A free-kick from Conor Mahoney hit the woodwork and later in the half keeper Owen Evans made a double save to deny Macauley Bonne and Ethan Coleman after Max Clark whipped a ball into the box.

Max Ehmer was on at the break for the Gills but he conceded a free-kick shortly after the restart and was grateful to see Jake Turner to make a save after Tom Knowles’ effort beat the wall.

Gillingham introduced Jayden Clarke for Shaun Williams with less than an hour played, looking to try and give themselves more of an attacking threat.

Shortly after Williams was taken off the Gills conceded a third as once again Hutchinson evaded the defence. From just inside the box he shimmied his way past Ehmer and beat Turner with a low shot into the bottom corner to make it 3-0, with 58 minutes gone.

One fan on social media joked that Millen had been the only person at that point to have made a tackle for the Gills.

It looked pretty desperate for Gillingham, but within a minute they got a goal back, Bonne scoring from close range after goalkeeper Evans could only parry a shot from Mahoney. Clarke’s pace down the left flank had opened Walsall up.

The Gills were suddenly alive and Coleman went close to scoring for the visitors, denied by a block, but at the other end Walsall continued to look threatening as Knowles and Hutchinson both went close.

Draper went even closer with a lob over Turner that bounced off the crossbar.

Shad Ogie’s rasping effort on 81 minutes was kept out well by Evans as the Gills still had hope at that point of rescuing something from the match.

Hope was over when the Gills were pulled apart at the back again, Tierney crossing for Hutchinson and he headed in his third of the day with five minutes left.

Walsall: Evans, McEntee, Daniels, Riley, Hutchinson, Knowles (Comley 79mins), Draper (Matt 79mins), Williams, Allen, Stirk, Tierney. Subs not used: Smith, James-Taylor, Foulkes, Johnson, Griffiths.

Gillingham: Turner, McKenzie (Ehmer 46mins), Clark, Masterson, Ogie, S Williams (Clarke 56mins), Coleman, Jefferies, Mahoney (J Williams 90mins), Bonne, Nichols (Lapslie 73mins). Subs not used: Morris, Orji, Chambers.

Referee: Charles Breakspear

Attendance: 5,633 (600 away)

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