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Match Reports

REPORT & GALLERY | GILLINGHAM 1 HATTERS 3

Seventh win in nine league games lifts the Town up to fourth spot

24 November 2018

The Hatters moved up to fourth in the Sky Bet League One table - level on points with third-placed Barnsley - with a 3-1 win at Gillingham this afternoon.

Elliot Lee moved to the top of the goalscoring charts with a brace taking him to eight for the season, after Andrew Shinnie had set Nathan Jones' side on their way to a seventh win in nine league games with a superb 25th-minute opener.

Jones had names an unchanged side for the third game in a row as the Town travelled to Kent looking to make it six games unbeaten in the third tier, with the defeat at Oakwell last month their only defeat in 12.

James Shea was named in goal, behind a back four of Jack Stacey, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley and James Justin. Captain Glen Rea anchored the midfield alongside Shinnie and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, who was making his 175th appearance for the club. 

Lee lined up at the tip of the diamond, with Harry Cornick and James Collins -who was the top scorer on seven goals following his hat-trick against Plymouth last week - up front.

It took six minutes for the Town to fashion the game’s first opening, Justin raiding down the left and, together with Mpanzu, setting up Lee to wriggle his way into the area and crack a low shot straight at Tomas Holy in the Gills’ goal.

Gillingham’s first sighter came in the eighth minute when Tom Eaves latched on to Elliott List’s flick on, but his right-footed 20-yarder never looked like troubling Shea.

Bradley headed wide from a Justin corner on the quarter-of-an-hour mark, then Josh Rees did likewise at the other end after getting on the end of a long throw.

The breakthrough came in the 25th minute, and it did so after a trademark passing move down the left that started with a triangle on the edge of the Town’s own box between Bradley, Shinnie and Justin, and concluded with the Scotsman playing a deft one-two with Cornick at the other end before giving Holy no chance with a right-footer from 18 yards out.

The travelling fans thought the lead had been doubled three minutes later when Mpanzu sent in a left-wing cross that Collins met at the far post with a thumping header, but referee Kevin Johnson ruled it out for a push by the Town striker.

A scrappy period followed before the Town had strong appeals for a penalty turned down just before the break when Bradley appeared to be dragged to the ground by home captain Gabriel Zakuani as he tried to get on the end of a Justin corner.

The advantage was doubled ten minutes into the second half when Collins did well, twice, on the right side of the penalty box to keep his composure – and the ball – receiving an intelligent touch from Rea and the trading passes with Shinnie before crossing low for Lee to fire into the roof of the net.

Byrne hit a volley at the far post on the hour, but it was comfortable for Shea, before he sliced a 25-yarder well wide five minutes later, with Gills boss Steve Lovell having made a triple substitution in between.

The third came in the 68th minute and although it was Lee who tucked it away, the goal belonged to Cornick who carried the ball down the left touchline, going off the pitch Gareth Bale-style at one point, from deep inside his own half before outpacing three defenders and slipping his shot low past Holy.

Unfortunately for the flying forward, the ball rebounded back off the foot of the post but, thankfully, into the path of Lee who gleefully rammed home his second of the game and seventh of the season from six yards out.

Jones immediately brought skipper Alan Sheehan on in place of the excellent Shinnie, but the hosts grabbed a goal back in the 72nd minute when top scorer Tom Eaves volleyed home.

Shea had to be alert to keep out a Luke O’Neill free-kick from the edge of the area with just over ten minutes to go, before List fired over the bar and Eaves sent a header into the home fans in the final minute of normal time.

But the Town never looked in trouble, with the rock-like Pearson and Bradley seeing the game out comfortably with Sheehan helping stem the tide of the Gills' aerial bombardment late on.

 

TOWN: Shea, Stacey, Pearson, Bradley, Justin, Rea (c), Mpanzu, Shinnie (Sheehan 68), Lee (Jones 90+1), Cornick (Jarvis 84), Collins. Subs: Potts, McCormack, Grant, Stech.

Goals: Shinnie 25, Lee 55, 68

Yellows: Rea, Bradley

GILLS: Holy, O'Neill, Ehmer, Zakuani (c), Parrett (Oldaker 61), Eaves, Fuller, List, Bingham (Garmston 62), Rees (Parker 61), Byrne. Subs: Hadler (GK), Reilly, Mbo, Ogilvie

Goals: Eaves 72

Yellows: Eaves

REFEREE: Kevin Johnson


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