Gillingham 0-3 Ipswich Town - Half-Time
Saturday, 8th Jan 2022 15:59
Goals from James Norwood, Wes Burns and Macauley Bonne have given Town a 3-0 half-time lead over Gillingham after a brilliant first 45 minutes at the Priestfield Stadium.
Christian Walton returned to an otherwise unchanged Blues side having missed the 1-0 victory over Wycombe Wanderers in manager Kieran McKenna’s first game in charge due to Covid. The on-loan Brighton man replaces Vaclav Hladky, who drops to the bench.
Cameron Burgess, who also had Covid, and Kane Vincent-Young were back on the bench with Scott Fraser and Toto Nsiala dropping out.
For the Gills, former Town loanee Mustapha Carayol started, while academy youngster Stuart O’Keefe skippered.
Ahead of kick-off, as rain continued to fall steadily as it had throughout the day, both teams took a knee.
The Blues, wearing their white and black away kit, got off to a bright start and almost created an opening within the first minute when Wes Burns played a one-two with Macauley Bonne, which looked to have sent the Welshman into the area in the clear but the right wing-back lost his footing on the wet surface on the edge of the box as he took the return pass.
In the fifth minute, a long Ryan Jackson throw from the Gills right was headed well back into the Town fans behind the goal by Vadaine Oliver.
But Town had started very confidently and in the ninth minute they went in front. George Edmundson played a cross-field ball to Janoi Donacien, who exchanged a one-two with Burns before taking it forward to the edge of the area and playing it into Bonne’s feet.
The Blues’ top scorer swept it wide to skipper Sam Morsy, who whipped over a low cross which James Norwood slammed into the net from close range, the striker’s fourth goal in four league games.
After play restarted, Donacien was was shown the first yellow card of the game for a foul on Carayol on the Gillingham left.
In the 13th minute Town doubled their lead. Bonne turned away from his man, brought it forward and laid it to Burns on the right of the box from where the wing-back smashed a shot between Gills keeper Jamie Cumming and his left post. The Welshman delightedly celebrated his fifth goal of the season with his team-mates.
Bonne had played a part in both and in the 24th minute his 10-game goal drought came to an end when he netted the Blues’ third and his 12th of the season from another brilliantly constructed move.
Sone Aluko, in a number 10 role behind Bonne and Norwood, played a defence-splitting pass for Matt Penney on the left and the wing-back cut across to the on-loan QPR man who stroked into the empty net as cheers erupted from the ecstatic - if a little damp on the open terrace - Town support and boos from the home fans.
The Blues were well worth their three-goal lead having played their slickest football of the season, the additional time on the training ground afforded by the recent postponed matches clearly having paid dividends.
The possession stats at the half-hour of 75-25 in their favour illustrated their domination with their one-touch passing at pace and movement having Gillingham chasing shadows.
The Gills caused the first moment of hesitation in the Blues’ backline in the 39th minute when a Jackson cross hit a Town defender and ran loose but the danger was averted and the Blues quickly went back the looking for a fourth, Burns seeing a dangerous cross headed out at the near post.
In injury time Carayol struck a speculative shot from distance which caught a Town player and went for a corner from which Daniel Phillips was unable to get enough on his header to direct it goalwards.
Moments later, the half-time whistle was greeted by boos from the home support and applause from the travelling Town fans, delighted with their side’s superb display.
The Blues had started confidently and were in control of the half from the off, carving the Gills apart with their slick, fast-paced football as they gained a well-deserved three-goal lead.
Gillingham had looked shell-shocked and had only really shown any threat from a couple of set pieces.
Barring a second-half miracle, new manager McKenna looks well on his way to making it two wins from two in his fledgling management career.
Gillingham: Cumming, Jackson, Ehmer, Bennett, McKenzie, Tucker, O’Keefe (c), Phillips, Carayol, Tutonda, Oliver. Subs: Chapman, Lloyd, Sithole, Reeves, Lee, Dempsey, Dickson-Peters.
Town: Walton, Donacien, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Burns, Aluko, Morsy (c), Evans, Penney, Norwood, Bonne. Subs: Hladky, Vincent-Young, Burgess, Carroll, Chaplin, Jackson, Pigott. Referee: Alan Young (Cambridgeshire).
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