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Match Reports

REPORT | Gillingham 1-0 Wrexham

Red Dragons suffer narrow defeat in Kent

24 February 2024

Match Reports

REPORT | Gillingham 1-0 Wrexham

Red Dragons suffer narrow defeat in Kent

24 February 2024

Wrexham fell to defeat away from home, after Tim Dieng's goal proved enough to earn Gillingham a narrow win at Priestfield.

Dieng scored the only goal of the game in the second half, as Wrexham's recent return to unbeaten ways was halted after the long journey to Kent.

Wrexham made five changes from the mid-week draw at MK Dons, with Jordan Tunnicliffe back in defence in place of the suspended Will Boyle.

Steven Fletcher, Ryan Barnett and Elliot Lee also returned to the starting line-up, with Sam Dalby, Luke Bolton and Luke Young dropping to the bench.

Gillingham had the first sight of goal – Tim Dieng presented with an early chance after Max Cleworth’s foul on the edge of the area on two minutes – but the free-kick hit the Wrexham wall.

A minute later, Eoghan O’Connell headed Remeao Hutton’s long throw clear but Jonny Williams followed in with a low shot which was dragged wide via a slight deflection. From the resultant corner, Dieng then headed straight at Arthur Okonkwo at the back post.

Wrexham grew into the game well, however, pressing well and counter-attacking with pace. It was from one such counter-attack in the eighth minute, Jack Marriott released James McClean, who in turn played in Barnett early. Barnett played the ball back across goal, but McClean - sliding in at the back post – shot high and wide.

Jacob Mendy was next to go close, cutting onto his right foot on the left-wing and drifting a shot across goal on 12 minutes, which Gills keeper Glenn Morris did well to turn wide.

Eoghan O’Connell’s volley was then blocked, from Max Cleworth’s throw-in, in the 13th minute and it took an important header to stop Lee from converting from Mendy’s cross after a good passing move from right to left on 16 minutes.

Gillingham weathered the storm though and, at the other end, Max Ehmer headed inside for Dieng in the 18th minute, only for Dieng to head over.

Lee was tripped on the edge of the area to present McClean with a big free-kick chance on 28 minutes, but he fired his low, left-footed effort straight at the wall.

The hosts continued to probe, however, and Hutton cut inside but curled a shot straight at Okonkwo on 29 minutes. Five minutes later, Ethan Coleman unleashed a rising shot from distance, which Okonkwo did well to push over the bar.

Former Wales international Jonny Williams’ long-range shot was then well blocked in the 36th minute, allowing McClean and Barnett to counter-attack, but the latter’s own shot was wasteful and well off target.

Neither side could find the breakthrough before half-time though, albeit the pace of the game was reflected in their being no time added on to the 45.

After the break, Lee was first to try his luck, cutting inside and shoot right-foot on 47 minutes, but the ball spun wide off a defender.

At the other end, Ashley Nadesan and Oli Hawkins took advantage of a bouncing ball to fashion a shooting chance, but Cleworth got a vital touch.

Cleworth’s foul led to the free-kick from which Gillingham opened the scoring in the 54th minute, however. Max Clark crossed to the back post, where Connor Masterson played it back across goal and Dieng got the vital touch to score.

Wrexham struggled to get hold of possession as they looked to hit back, and Phil Parkinson’s response was to bring Paul Mullin on for Marriott on 69 minutes.

Mullin’s first act was to win a free-kick, which Cannon played short for Barnett to cross from the right-wing, and Mendy headed over from six yards.

Nadesan shot into the side-netting for Gillingham on 72 minutes, before Wrexham went close again in the 74th minute. Lee’s shot was instinctively parried, allowing Fletcher to hook the ball back goalward. Morris got a touch to it and scrambled across his line to push the loose ball clear.

Both sides could sense a shift in momentum and responded with changes – Gillingham making a triple change, and Wrexham a quadruple. Bolton, Jordan Davies, Young and Dalby all came on, with Barnett, Mendy, Tunnicliffe and Fletcher making way.

Young’s corner was cleared to the edge of the box on 87 minutes, but Lee volleyed well off target from the edge of the box.

Davies got into the area in the 93rd minute, from Lee’s pass, but elected to pass and put it just behind Dalby.

The visitors could not test Morris, however, and Gillingham stood firm to claim victory.

Line-ups

Gillingham (5-3-2): Morris, Hutton, Masterson, Ehmer, Ogie, Clark (McKenzie 77), Dieng, J.Williams (Malone 77), Coleman, Nadesan (Clarke 77), Hawkins

Subs: Holtan (G/K), S.Williams, Mahoney, Walker

Wrexham AFC (3-5-2): Okonkwo, Cleworth, O’Connell, Tunnicliffe (Young 78), Barnett (Bolton 78), Cannon, Lee, McClean, Mendy (J.Davies 78), Marriott (Mullin 69), Fletcher (Dalby 78)

Subs: Howard (G/K), Tozer

Referee: Scott Simpson

Attendance: 8,693 (844 away)

Bookings

Gillingham:

Wrexham: Lee (69, foul), Bolton (81, foul)


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