The Gills come from behind to earn another pre-season win
The Gills came from behind to beat Dartford 2-1 on Tuesday, with Emmanuel Osadebe and Joe Quigley grabbing second half goals.
Justin Edinburgh started with Osadebe and Max Ehmer in the centre of defence for the second game in a row, after the pair lined up together against Barnet on Saturday. Tom Hadler replaced Stuart Nelson in goal for the Gills, with Quigley and Luke Norris selected upfront for the opening half.
The first chance of the match fell to the away side on three minutes, but loanee Quigley couldn’t provide the finishing touch after a positive move down the left. Captain for the night Paul Konchesky attacked down the wing and hung up a ball to the back post, where Norris headed back across goal to Quigley, but the tall striker’s effort went wide of the target.
Dartford opened the scoring on 14 minutes, from their first effort of note. Hadler’s clearance fell to Ryan Hayes who, from 30-yards, chipped the ball over the backtracking goalkeeper into an empty net.
One minute later Ellis Brown latched on to a loose cross field ball from Billy Knott, but the Dartford number 10 couldn’t provide the killer pass that would have left his team mate one-on-one.
Halfway through the opening period the away side had another chance at the back post, again, from a Konchesky cross. This time, the onrushing Jake Hessenthaler arrived to meet the ball, but the midfielder’s header was blocked and cleared.
Meanwhile, Quigley and Norris were starting together as a strike force for the first time and were chasing every ball that came in their direction up the field, causing the Dartford defence continuous problems.
Brown had the chance to add a second for Dartford, after finding himself one-on-one against Konchesky. The experienced defender stood his ground, which left Brown with no option but to shoot from distance, but his curling effort sailed over.
It was Hessenthaler who had the best shot of the half for the Gills, after easy-on-the eye play down the right wing. Ryan Jackson chipped the ball over Dartford’s back line, and Hessenthaler struck first time on the half-volley, but Deren Ibrahim did well to parry the effort.
Knott had a free-kick wide of the box just before half-time, but his effort was tipped over by Ibrahim in the Dartford goal.
Edinburgh made just one change at the restart, with Cody McDonald replacing Norris in attack and the substitute nearly had an immediate impact on the game.
Knott found Lee Martin down the left, who cut the ball back to McDonald, but the Dartford goalkeeper was equal to his effort, getting down low to deny the striker.
From the resulting clearance the Gills scored an equaliser. Jackson’s long throw was met by Osadebe on the edge of the penalty area, and his glanced header looped into the back of the net off the far post to make it 1-1 on 51 minutes.
The Gills were on the attack again for a second mintues later. Martin found Knott, who whipped the ball across the goal line but Quigley’s touch didn’t have enough power to guide the ball into the net.
Following the restart the game had opened up and it was the home side who went close on 55 minutes. Alex Brown found himself with the ball at his feet inside the six-yard-box, but his powerful effort forced a sublime stop from Hadler in goal, blocking with his leg down to the left.
The Gills went in front on 67 minutes, with Quigley grabbing his first goal for the club. Martin’s menacing free-kick only needed a deft touch, which was provided by the striker at the front post to make the score 2-1.
Martin was in the action again moments later, forcing a good save from Ibrahim after a long-range attempt on goal.
Mark Byrne, Rory Donnelly, Bradley Dack and 16-year-old left-back Henry Arnold all came on in the second-half as Edinburgh looked to add some fresh legs onto the pitch.
Arnold went on a solo run down the left before cutting in and unleashing a wicked shot that was saved by Ibrahim.
The Gills held on comfortably through the closing stages and saw the game out to win 2-1.
Leyton Orient are the Gills’ final opponents of pre-season, hosting the Gills in Saturday’s 3pm fixture at the Matchroom Stadium.
Dartford: Ibrahim, Wood (Eweka 89), Wynter, Bonner, Vint, Brown (Habte 78), Hayes (Seixas 56), Bradbrook (Gardiner 63), Harris (Francis 46), Brown (Dembele 59), Wanadio (Mensah 81)
Unused subs: Pugh, Coxall
Gillingham: Hadler, Jackson, Ehmer, Osadebe, Konchesky (Arnold, 80), Oldaker (Byrne 72), Knott (Dack 84), Hessenthaler, Martin, Norris (McDonald 46), Quigley (Donnelly 75)
Unused subs: Nelson, Wright, List, Cundle, O’Mara
Referee: Constantine Hatzakis