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Kick off 19:45 (UK)

29 December 2023 Venue Priestfield Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

Gillingham v Sutton preview

29 December 2023

After Boxing Day's first away Sky Bet League Two victory of the season saw Sutton climb off the bottom of the table, U's will look to back that up at Gillingham tonight. U's will be in all amber

After beginning the season with four consecutive 1-0 wins, including one at Sutton when Ashley Nadesan's early goal proved decisive, Gillingham were prominent at the top of the table early in the season but a run of three games without a win saw them part company with manager Neil Harris in early October. Stephen Clemence took over at the start of November, and he will be looking to reverse a similar run of form which has seen the Gills fail to win or score in their last three league games, most recently a 2-0 defeat at home to Crawley on Tuesday and they have now dropped in to the lower half of the table, with their goals tally of nineteen the lowest in the division. However an impressive FA Cup win at home to Charlton is also in their recent form, earning a home tie against Premier League Sheffield United in the third round. 

It's exactly a year ago to the day that Sutton beat Gillingham at the VBS Community Stadium, Craig Eastmond scoring a very late winner, and U's will hope for a repeat performance this evening to back up the result at Wimbledon on Tuesday. Interim manager Jason Goodliffe reports no new injury concerns after the game at Plough Lane so will select from a similar squad, and while Eastmond, Louis John and Hisham Kasimu are unlikely to feature tonight, all three are back in full training and should be available for selection soon.

Referee David Rock was in charge of the corresponding fixture last season, when Alex McDonald's injury time goal settled a poor game. In his fifth season as an EFL referee, he has regularly refereed Sutton games since our National League South days, and most recently took charge of the home game with AFC Wimbledon in August.

There are no tickets available on the gate for Sutton supporters this evening, with the club office open until 11am for anyone who still wants to buy a ticket for the game. Any tickets ordered but not collected can be picked up this evening from the away turnstiles at the end of Priestfield Road.

If you can't get there, the game will be live streamed, with a match pass costing £10. Overseas viewers can still take advantage of the half-season ticket offer, with a pass costing just £85 to cover all league games to the end of the season, though not FA Cup ties. Click here for more information and to buy the required pass.

Those travelling by car should leave the M2 at junction 1 and take the A289, following signs to, and then going through, the Medway Tunnel. Continue on the A289 across two sets of traffic lights then take the third exit at The Strand roundabout, turning in to Church Street. Continue up the hill and across the level crossing, and the turnings to the ground are then on the left. There is no on site parking, and street parking immediately around the ground is restricted to permit holders. Parking is available for £5, cash only, at Barnsole Road Primary School, ME7 2JG, about a ten minute walk from the ground. The car park is clearly signposted and has capacity for around 50 cars with an overflow area if required for another 20. The car park is gated and open from 6.00pm to 10.30pm, although it is locked ten minutes before kick off and re-opened ten minutes after the final whistle.

By rail, leave Sutton at 26 or 56 minutes past the hour and change at London Bridge, total journey time just under two hours. The return at 21.57 has changes at London Bridge and Blackfriars, after which the 22.30 requires changes at London Bridge, Norwood Junction and West Croydon - in both cases you won't be back in Sutton until after midnight. On leaving Gillingham station turn left on to Balmoral Road. Walk for about five minutes down Balmoral Road until you come to the end. Straight opposite Balmoral Road you will see Priestfield Road. The away turnstiles are located at the top of Priestfield Road. The walk from the station should take no longer than ten minutes. 

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Match Reports

Match report for Gillingham 1 Sutton United 0

29 December 2023

Gillingham 1(Malone 72) Sutton United 0

Sutton's hopes of backing up the Boxing Day win at Wimbledon with more success on the road was undone at The Priestfield Stadium by a first half red card for striker Harry Smith, coming just as it looked as though U's had weathered a good start by Gillingham, and, after a determined defensive effort from U's ten men, a stunning volley by substitute Scott Malone eighteen minutes from time.

U's brought Rob Milsom, Craig Clay, Dion Pereira and Aiden O'Brien in to the starting line up in place of Sam Hart, Dominic Gape, Omari Patrick and Lee Angol, but were on the back foot in the early stages and a mistake by Joe Kizzi allowed Ashley Nadesan through on the right but Dean Bouzanis got a touch on his shot to send it beyond the far post. Oliver Hawkins headed just over from a left wing corner, and Ben Goodliffe was booked for the second of two heavy challenges on Jonny Williams, the first of which in just the third minute could also easily have brought a yellow card.

With Gillingham keen to end a record of three league games without a win or a goal, Williams saw a shot deflected wide soon afterwards, but Sutton survived the early pressure and after getting in front of his marker to meet a Pereira cross Smith failed to get sufficient contact with his header to direct it goalwards. However Smith was soon heading towards the dressing room after referee David Rock produced a red card for a challenge on home captain Max Ehmer.

U's immediately brought on Angol for the unlucky Pereira, and came close when Goodliffe met a Kizzi cross with a firm header that was clutched by Jake Turner above his head. If that was a routine save for the keeper there was little routine about the save Bouzanis produced moments later, a brilliant stop to his right to keep out a Hawkins header from Nadesan's cross. 

Just before half time Gillingham were forcd to replace Williams with Connor Mahoney, while at the break, as had happened at Wimbledon, Omar Sowunmi replaced Goodliffe who had been on a yellow card since the tenth minute, while Christian N'Guessan came on for Tope Fadahunsi. The first chance of the half fell to Angol, whose shot was blocked and looped harmlessly in to Turner's hands, but for most of the time U's were on the defensive. Hawkins just failed to meet a cross at the far post and Tom Nichols, one of three substitutes brought on just after the hour mark, headed wide when he should have done better, but apart from that, with crosses cleared and shots blocked, Bouzanis was relatively untroubled. However with eighteen minutes left a cross from Mahoney following a short corner was headed clear by N'Guessan when it might have been going through to Bouzanis, and as the ball dropped Malone, another brought on in that triple substitution, struck a first time volley that no one was blocking or saving as it flew just under the angle of post and bar to end Gillingham's 349 minute goal drought.

Sutton brought on Sam Hart as an attacking left winger and pushed Sowunmi in to the forward line in the closing stages in an effort to grab an equaliser, but apart from a Patrick shot that was dealt with relatively comfortably by Turner the home side had few other alarms as they held on for the three points that pushed them back in to the top half of the table, while U's only comfort was defeats for the sides around them in the League Two table.

Sutton: D Bouzanis, R Jackson, R Milsom, J Kizzi, B Goodliffe (sub O Sowunmi H-T), C Clay, T Fadahunsi(sub C N'Guessan H-T), A O'Brien (sub O Patrick 66), H Smith, H Beautyman (sub S Hart 77), D Pereira(sub L Angol 31). Sub n/u S Arnold. Booked: Goodliffe, Hart, Clay. Sent Off: Smith

Gillingham: J Turner, C Alexander (sub J Clarke 63), M Clark (sub S Malone 63), C Masterson, M Ehmer, S Ogie, E Coleman, J Williams(sub C Mahoney 45), O Hawkins, A Nadesan(sub T Nicholls 62), D Jeffries(sub G Lapslie 81). Subs n/u G Morris, M Bonne. Booked: Coleman

Referee: David Rock

Attendance: 6,334(309 away)

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