REPORT: Gillingham v Wanderers

A stunning first goal for Wanderers and welcome second-half strikes from Declan John and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson propelled the Whites to a highly impressive victory which keeps their play-off hopes intact.

Wanderers’ margin for error in their pursuit of a possible top-six place had been trimmed by successive away defeats.

But Ian Evatt’s men responded to those set-backs in impressive fashion with one of their most dominant performances on the road which could have produced an even bigger winning margin.

Wanderers made chances almost at will against a Gillingham side whose hopes of beating the drop had been enhanced by a run of just two defeats in seven games since Neil Harris had taken over as manager.

The failure to take a greater percentage kept the outcome in some sort of doubt until the final half hour.

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But Wanderers were still comprehensive winners as Morley’s sumptuous strike, John’s fourth goal of the season – shortly after the Gills had been reduced to 10 men – and a deserved late strike for Jon Dadi Bodvarsson wrapped up a ninth victory in the last 12 games.

Wanderers were without former Gills’ skipper Kyle Dempsey due to illness and their own vice-captain in Gethin Jones following the tragic loss of his mother Karen.

Jones’ team-mates wore black armbands in a show of sympathy and support for the family, locking arms ahead of kick-off before getting down to work to try and secure a second away win in five attempts to get their play-off push back into top gear.

Gillingham – fighting for points at the other end of the table – asked some early questions with a barrage of long throws into the penalty area.

But Wanderers soon took charge with some impressive football creating outstanding opportunities for Dion Charles to give them the lead.

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Charles was too slick for the Gills’ back line with his touch and turning ability but after being picked out by Dapo Afolayan and getting free in the box he lifted a shot over the top.

And with a quarter of an hour gone he had an even better chance, following up a shot from Will Aimson but firing the rebound wide when he looked a certain scorer.

The Whites needed a goal to reflect their superiority and when it did come after half an hour it was worth the wait.

Morley was enjoying another impressive game and when Marlon Fossey – released by MJ Williams – pulled the ball back for the midfielder just outside the penalty area, Morley curled a wonderful first-time effort across Aaron Chapman and into the top corner.

Their set-piece threat kept the Gills interested but the real chances continued to come Wanderers’ way and Fossey was next to get a sight of goal after more intricate build-up play gave the wing-back a shooting opportunity he directed too close to Chapman.

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Wanderers couldn’t afford to make the lack of a second goal a punishable offence and again at the start of the second half they had opportunities to kill the contest.

Fossey once more made space in the box for a shot after getting forward to great affect but his effort was blocked and Afolayan then had to attempts to beat Chapman and double the lead.

Charles then forced Chapman into another save at the end of another excellent moved that carved open the Gills’ defence and with half an hour to go the hosts were reduced to 10 men when Daniel Phillips brought down Bodvarsson to collect his second yellow cards in a matter of minutes.

Wanderers further sensed the chance to go for the kill and just five minutes they did finally make it 2-0 to earn some welcome breathing space.

Again Morley was involved with a crisp pass to Charles who released Bodvarsson for a run and shot well saved by Chapman, who was then powerless to stop John ramming home the rebound with a tidy finish.

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The wing-back’s previous goal had come in Wanderers’ last away success at Oxford United and the Whites matched the three goals they had scored there three minutes from the end when Bodvardsson’s persistence paid off with another run into the box and neat finish with the outside of his foot in front of the celebrating travelling fans.

Wanderers: Trafford; Aimson, Santos, Johnston; Fossey, Williams (Thomason 87), Morley, John; Afolayan (Sadlier 78); Charles (Bakayoko 78), Bodvarsson. Substitutes: Dixon, Amaechi, Gordon, Senior.

Booked: Williams

Gillingham: Chapman; Tucker, Ehmer, Masterson; Jackson, Phillips, O’Keefe, McKenzie; Thompson, Carayol (Reeves HT); Oliver (Kelman 87). Substitutes: Dahlberg, Tutonda, Dickson-Peters, Lee, Maghoma, Kelman.

Booked: Phillips.

Sent off: Phillips

Referee: Craig Hicks

Attendance: 5,109 (832 Wanderers)

Read Time: 4 mins