Gillingham 0-1 Portsmouth Five Things: passive Gills

Kennedy nets the winner –

Portsmouth deserved their 1-0 win at Gillingham on Sunday, which came thanks to Matty Kennedy’s second half goal. However, they were helped hugely by the clear shortcomings of their opponents. Here’s five things from the game.

Gills lack of intensity

There were too many times when Portsmouth had possession in the final third and Gillingham had eight or nine outfield players back, but none of them put pressure on the ball. In the first half, the hosts were bailed out by good defending from their centre-backs, Finn O’Mara, Max Ehmer and Ben Nugent, as well as Portsmouth’s poor end product.

Chances at a premium

The visitors couldn’t get their shooting right early on: Matty Kennedy curled a right-footed shot straight at Tomas Holy on 17 minutes, shortly before Jamal Lowe’s shot was blocked and Ben Close’s follow-up effort was saved. Gillingham had a penalty appeal waved away when Sean Clare was allegedly tripped by Oliver Hawkins, the one shaky moment in the target man-turned centre-back’s performance. The home side’s best chance came when Lee Martin found Josh Parker at the back-post just before half-time, but the wing-back skewed his shot wide of the far post.

Controlled second half

Kennedy was the game’s most productive player  in an attacking sense, so it was fitting that he netted the winner within a minute of the re-start. Curtis Main headed Nathan Thompson’s cross against the post and the left-winger knocked in the loose ball, to make way for a controlled second half from Portsmouth. They retained possession well with Stuart O’Keefe keeping things simple, even if the forwards lacked the ruthlessness to kill the game off.

Parker caught offside

O’Mara’s cross found Parker, who had the ball in the net after another run to the back-post, but he was caught offside. Gillingham had spells of pressure after Elliott List and Darren Oldaker came on, but Portsmouth dealt comfortably with Connor Ogilvie’s long throws and the hosts otherwise lacked the invention to cut them apart.

In summary

The final whistle meant Portsmouth climbed to within three points of the play-off places, but hindered by injuries, they don’t yet look like a side capable of challenging for another promotion. Gillingham remain 23rd and have failed to score in eight of their 12 games this season. Whoever they appoint between now and Saturday’s trip to Peterborough must encourage them to get further up the pitch and play at a higher intensity. Otherwise, the trap door to League Two will begin to open.