Fleetwood Town fought hard in their 2-0 win as they overcame Steve Evans' Gillingham at Priestfield Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Both sides managed to create multiple gilt-edged chances throughout the game, but it was Fleetwood who found the breakthrough, as Paddy Madden’s short-range header just after the hour mark flew past Jack Bonham. Ched Evans added to this in added time as he found some space in the home side's box and smashed it home.
The first chance of the game fell to Fleetwood after Jay Matete stormed forward from the midfield and was fouled 20-yards out by Scott Robertson. New-signing Tom Edwards stepped up to take the free-kick, but his effort flew over the crossbar.
Both sides then contested in the middle of the park until the 20th minute when Harvey Saunders found a yard of space in the opposition’s box, but his effort was blocked by a diving Zech Medley. From the resulting corner, Charlie Mulgrew rose highest at the back post but couldn’t guide his header goalwards.
There was a stop in play soon after as Tom O’Connor went down in the middle of the park, needing treatment from the bench, with Callum Connolly also needing medical treatment after a facial injury.
Around the half-hour mark, John Akinde nodded on a header towards Dominic Samuel inside the Fleetwood box, who forced a diving save out of Jayson Leutwiler.
Gillingham were back on the attack just a few minutes later as Akinde found himself in a one-on-one situation with Leutwiler, but his strike ended up hitting the post.
The home side started to really find their feet in the game as in the 40th minute, Ryan Jackson played the ball down the wing to Jordan Graham, who crossed the ball into a packed box, where Samuel rose headed just over.
Fleetwood had the last chance of the half as Sam Finley won the ball inside the Gillingham half, drove forward but his strike from range went high and wide of the target.
Two minutes into the second half, Connor Ogilvie played a long free-kick over the top, which Mulgrew clears, only to Alex MacDonald who struck the ball well wide of the far post.
A couple of minutes later, Leutwiler came out to collect a lobbed through ball but was contested, the ball then dropped to a Gillingham forward, who played the ball across the box to MacDonald who rattles the crossbar with his strike.
Fleetwood almost drew level in the 55th minute as substitute Ched Evans brilliantly played the ball into Callum Camps inside the Gillingham box. He then found Paddy Madden, but his strike was blocked by Medley.
Claims for a penalty followed as a perfectly weighted through ball found Camps inside the Gillingham box, he took the ball past Medley and was seemingly tripped by the defender, but the claims were waved away by the referee.
Fleetwood found their way forward again soon after as Finley’s chip into the box was just about cleared, but only to Glenn Whelan, whose effort from range flew over the bar.
Town finally found the breakthrough in the 66th minute as Edwards whipped a dangerous ball in from the left towards Camps, who jumped up and headed against the crossbar. The rebound fell to the feet of Madden who calmly placed the ball home.
Late on in the game, Gillingham defender Ogilvie chased down Jay Matete on the right-wing and wiped out the player, stopping his run forwards, sending the youngster into the sponsor boards. The referee, who had previously booked Gillingham’s number three, brought out the yellow card against and sent him off, leaving the home side with ten men on the pitch.
The last chance of the game fell to Fleetwood as Evans found some space inside the Gillingham box, composed himself, and smashed the ball straight past Bonham to double Town's lead.
Gillingham XI: Bonham (GK), Jackson (C), Ogilvie, Tucker, Medley, Samuel (Coyle 85’), Graham, Akinde, Eccles, Robertson (Willock 74’), O’Connor (MacDonald 23’).
Subs not used: Walsh (GK), McKenzie, Woods, Maghoma.
Town XI: Leutwiler (GK), Edwards, Andrew, Connolly, Whelan (C), Camps (Coutts 88’), Mulgrew, Madden, Saunders (Evans 53’), Finley (Duffy 66’), Matete.
Subs not used: Cairns (GK), Burns, McKay, Holgate.