Goals from Jake Hessenthaler and Cody McDonald weren’t enough as the Gills lost 3-2 to Shrewsbury on Saturday, despite controlling the majority of the 90 minutes.
The Gills started the game on the front foot and Cody McDonald nearly had his name on the scoresheet with just five minutes played. Deji Oshilaja bombed forward from right-back and swung in a ball to the far post. McDonald headed the ball back in the direction it came but couldn’t provide enough dip and the ball came crashing off the underside of the crossbar.
John Egan was next to go close. The Gillingham captain stepped up to take a free-kick from 30 yards with an impressive shot but Jayson Leutwiler did well to parry the shot away from danger.
After a positive opening quarter of an hour, the Gills went a goal behind against the run of play. Crystal Palace loanee SULLAY KAIKAI picked up the ball in midfield and struck from 20-yards past Stuart Nelson.
Midway through the half the Gills had a free-kick in a similar position to earlier in the match. Bradley Dack stepped up this time with a fierce shot that was tipped over the bar by the Shrewsbury keeper.
Even though they had conceded first for the fourth game in a row, Edinburgh’s men were still looking to attack and most of the match was being played in the visitor’s half.
McDonald went close with a half chance for the home side. Dack took a clever quick free kick and picked out McDonald with an inch-perfect ball. The striker controlled the ball but couldn’t hit the target with his effort from just inside the area.
Gillingham’s number ten had another attempt denied by Leutwiler on 35 minutes. Luke Norris bullied Mat Sadler in a fifty-fifty challenge and won the ball, before hanging it up for McDonald, but the keeper was equal to his headed effort.
McDonald finally got the goal he had been threatening for the entire half in the last minute of added time and it was well worth the wait. Dack touched a free-kick on the angle of the box to MCDONALD who smashed a brilliant free-kick past the helpless Shrews keeper.
The Gills came out for the restart to a wall of noise from the Rainham End.
It looked as though Shrewsbury’s tactics were to foul the home side, and Norris in particular, on every occasion.
From the restart the Gills went up the other end and won a free-kick. The same formula of Dack to McDonald was tried, but this time Leutwiler was equal to the shot with a good save low to his right.
Once again, it was all Gillingham and once again, the home side were dealt with a sucker blow against the run of play.
After ten minutes of pressure the Shrews went up the other end and scored from an ANDY MANGAN bicycle kick in front of the travelling fans.
This time, however, their lead lasted just four minutes as the Gills pegged them back once again.
Aaron Morris did well to keep the ball alive on the edge of the area and found Norris, who the headed the ball to HESSENTHALER. The midfielder controlled the ball with a deft touch and then rifled it into the bottom corner to make it 2-2.
Bradley Garmston came off injured in a straight swap for Brennan Dickenson. The left-back was causing problems to the Shrews’ defence and won a couple of free-kicks in dangerous areas.
The Gills were pressing hard and had another two opportunities from McDonald and Hessenthaler but neither could find a finishing touch.
With thirteen minutes left Welsh international George Williams came on for Morris as Edinburgh put the emphasis on attack.
It was the visitors, however, that had the next attack and they took the lead once more on 81 minutes. J.L. AKPA AKPRO curled the ball past Nelson from inside the box.
Williams nearly made an impact with seven minutes remaining, bending a left-foot shot to the far corner that produced a good save from the Shrews’ keeper.
The visitors held on through four minutes of added time to take all three points, which saw the Gills drop down to seventh in League One.
Gillingham: Nelson, Garmston (Dickenson, 61), Egan, Ehmer, Oshilaja, Wright, A. Morris (Williams, 77), Hessenthaler, Dack, Norris, McDonald (Donnelly, 88)
Unused Subs: G. Morris, Jackson, McGlashan, Osadebe
Shrewsbury: Leutwiler, Sadler, Whitbread, Kaikai, Wesolowski, Grimmer, Agogo, Mangan (Black, 83), Knight-Percival, Hendry, Akpa Akpro
Unused Subs: Halstead, Vassell, Whalley, Clarke, Cole, Smith
Referee: Lee Swabey
Attendance: 6,906 (205 away)