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Match Report


Posted Sat 12 Sep 09 at 15:07 PM

Gillingham 2 Millwall 0

A couple of first-half crackers from Andy Barcham and Curtis Weston sent Millwall spinning to a second successive League One defeat at Gillingham.
Barcham set the victory wheels in motion after just six minutes with a stunning 22-yard rocket that gave Lions keeper David Forde no chance, with former Den midfielder Weston firing home a second with a fierce drive that flew into the back of the net off the foot of the post.
It was an afternoon of utter frustration that yielded three bookings for Kenny Jackett's side, a couple of penalty appeals turned down and - as if to eccentuate Millwall's luck at the moment - striker Neil Harris and then debutant James Henry hobbled off injured.
Having already used all three substitutes, by the time Henry was forced off with 20 minutes remaining and The Lions 2-0 behind, what had been an uphill battle was now neigh on an impossible one.
Boss Jackett had asked his men to stand up and be counted prior to kick-off, making wholesale changes to the side that lost at Bristol Rovers last Saturday.
In came loan signings Henry and Darren Ward, Harris and Steve Morison returned from injury whilst Adam Bolder and George Friend made up a sextet of changes.
But it was Gillingham who ripped into the visitors from the off.
Kevin Maher had already headed wide from Chris Palmer's corner before Barcham broke the deadlock on six minutes with an unstoppable piledriver.
Harris nearly capitalised on a defensive mix-up seconds after the restart, but was crowded out whilst the ever-dangerous Simeon Jackson - chief tormentor all afternoon - lashed over from a good position with 10 minutes on the clock.
Weston nearly doubled The Gills tally four minutes later, picking up a delightful back-heel from Jackson before drilling narrowly wide to the relief of the visiting fans behind the goal.
Henry was a whisker away from carving out an equaliser on 19 minutes, intercepting a poor defensive clearance before sending a fierce effort a foot over the bar.
Gillingham had the ball in the back of the net again midway through the half with Jackson's angled finish, only for linesman Phil Sharp to flag for off-side after an eternity.
The official was again caught ball watching in the 27th-minute when a clearly off-side Jackson was allowed to run on before firing into the side netting.
But it was Millwall who were caught out themsleves for a second time five minutes before the break when Weston was allowed too much time and space before driving a low shot to make it 2-0.
Morison could have reduced the deficit with virtually the last kick of the half, but such was Millwall's luck that when his goalbound effort was blocked by keeper Simon Royce, the rebound spun off Morsion and flew inches wide.
Jackett introduced Chris Hackett and Ali Fuseini for Bolder and Danny Schofield at the break in a bid to add some urgency and impetus, but it was The Gills who could have added a third goal a couple of minutes after the break.
Weston latched onto a long ball over the top, broke into the danger zone and produced a teasing ball across the face of goal that Jackson was a tlouch away from connecting with.
Millwall tried to work their way back in with Hackett's 52nd-minute free-kick headed over by Harris. Chopper then tickled the palms of Royce's hands on 61 minutes with a trademark curler, but his effort lacked any real power.
That proved to be his last contribution of the afternoon before a calf injury saw him replaced by Dave Martin just past the hour mark.
At the other end Gillingham continued to look sharp and inventive in front of goal, with Weston denied his second of the game by a great block from Jack Smith.
The Lions had a 65th-minute penalty appeal turned down when Mark Bentley appeared to control the ball with his hand, but referee Keith Stroud waved play on.
Jackett's side were then reduced to 10 men when Henry was forced off after appearing to pull up clutching his hamstring when stretching for the ball. Such was his frustration and anguish that the Reading winger smacked his hands in pain - and no doubt dismay too - as he left the pitch.
That should have been that, but to their credit, Milwlall's 10 men battled on gamely.
A second handball went unspotted by the officials with seven minutes remaining, leaving striker Morison looking to the skies in utter disbelief.
Jimmy Abdou's downward header was saved at the second attempt by Royce after Hackett's trickery had created space for a cross from the left.
The Hackett-Abdou combination nearly came up trumps again three minutes from time, but on this occasion the latter was crowded out in a central position eight yards out with Millwall's last real opportunity of the game.

Gillingham: Royce, Fuller, Maher, Bentley, Palmer, Jackson, Barcham, Gowling, Jackman (Nutter, 89mins), Oli (Rooney, 75mins), Weston (Miller, 81mins). Subs not used: Richards, Erskine, Julian, Payne.
Scorers: Barcham (6mins), Weston (40mins)

Millwall: Forde, Smith, Friend, Bolder (Fuseini, 46mins), Ward, Frampton, Henry, Abdou, Harris (Martin, 64mins), Morison, Schofield (Hackett, 46mins). Subs not used: Sullivan, Dunne, Barron, Marquis.
Bookings: Abdou (17mins), Smith (84mins), Martin (90mins)

Ref: Keith Stroud

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