Accrington Stanley 0-1 Gillingham Player Ratings: brilliant Bonham

Wham Stadium – www.accringtonstanley.co.uk (credit: Anthony Greenwood, Neil Broadhurst, John Hurst and Steve Bingham(

Gillingham have their first away win of their campaign as a combination of a fine Regan Charles-Cook strike and a goalkeeping masterclass from Jack Bonham saw them to a 1-0 win at Accrington Stanley. Here’s our Player Ratings from the clash in East Lancashire.

Accrington Stanley

Dimitar Evtimov – the Bulgarian stopper made a good early save from Mark Byrne, but spent the rest of the game largely untested and could do little about Charles-Cook’s striker. Struggled with his distribution due to a combination of Gillingham’s effective press and the absence of an obvious target man to aim for, which left him caught between a rock and a hard place from goal-kicks. 6

Callum Johnson – the right-back got up and down the flank with a lot of confidence and linked up well with Clark and Finley in the early stages. His influence waned as the first half wore on but he was rarely stretched defensively and was generally a useful outlet. 7
Mark Hughes – the former Morecambe centre-back organised the defence well and guided his less experienced partner through the process. His positioning was sound so, without being brilliant in terms of distribution, he answered one or two question marks over the merits of John Coleman’s loyalty to his skipper. 7
Aji Alese – the 18-year-old, on loan from West Ham, has been part of four England youth groups up to Under-19s and his talent, as well as his athleticism, was on evidence here – he showed a determination to defend on the front foot and tended to get forward for set pieces. 8
Jerome Opoku – the return of the athletic left-back from suspension was a huge plus for the Reds. Opoku made some valuable runs deep into the final third, which stretched the play and created more space for McConville and others; he produced one pin-point cross that led to the biggest test for the opposition goalkeeper. 8

Séamus Conneely – in the title-winning season, Conneely was playing alongside another holding midfielder such as Scott Brown. This year, he is the only one sitting and therefore has more containment work to do, which limited the extent to which he could impose himself on the game in positive terms in the first half. Short of a touch of quality in passing but still came close on numerous occasions with efforts from outside the box. 5

Jordan Clark – the handy Hoylander went on several mazy runs into the opposing half and was lively early on. Had quiet periods towards the end of the first half and at the beginning of the second, but then came on strong in the closing stages, wriggling away from Byrne and O’Connor before forcing a strong near-post stop from Bonham. 7
Sean McConville – the light-footed Liverpudlian tracked his runners well, which was important when Opoku pushed on. Not as involved in the thick of the contest quite as much as he might have ideally liked, despite seeing a shot blocked in his last act of the first half. Withdrawn on 71 minutes after a below-par display; fair to say McConville is not quite hitting his usual heights at the moment but we know how good a player he is and he will get his form back. 5

Sam Finley – the former AFC Fylde midfielder is used to being deployed in a deep role from which he broke up play but this season, he has been tasked with supporting the press higher up, with John Coleman and Jimmy Bell clearly believing he has the technical quality to do it. Finley certainly showed all his usual qualities here and played some audacious passes combined with relentless tenacity, even if there were one or two periods in the first half, in which Stanley could have done with him deeper to combat Gillingham’s press. 8

Colby Bishop – the technical forward had had a disrupted week; he started at Peterborough on Wednesday and has been nursing a bang in the subsequent two days. Considering this – and the fact he is still adjusting to a significant jump up the divisions – we should be lenient on him for not quite being at his usual, clinical best. If this, rather than a performance in which he does very little and gets no chances, is seen as an off-day, then he must have set the standards high. 6
Offrande Zanzala – like Bishop, “Ozzy” has been nursing a bang; he would normally be the one tasked with leading the press from the front but he was perhaps not quite at his usual level, although not helped by the fact the ball was so often behind him rather than in front of him. Zanzala’s unpredictability can be an asset, but he could do with adding a bit more consistency to his game. 5

Joe Pritchard (on 71) – the technical wide midfielder replaced McConville and immediately took on the Liverpudlian’s set piece duties, with his first touch being a free-kick leading to save. 7
Dion Charles (on 80) – the summer signing from Southport certainly put himself about and made a real effort to challenge the opposing defence, but without too much success. 5
Wilson Carvalho (on 88) – the winger, signed from Stratford Town, could not quite make the ideal impact in his short time on the pitch. 5

Gillingham

Jack Bonham – what a performance! The goalkeeper made a fantastic stop from Bishop’s header towards the end of the first half, but it was the second in which he came into his own. Bonham denied almost every Stanley player after the break, with stops from Clark and Pritchard being the pick. 10

Jack Tucker – the young defender has kept his place at right-back with Barry Fuller not quite at 100% and produced a steady display. The extent of his attacking involvement though was limited to an early back-post header, from Charles-Cook’s cross, which hit the post; understandable for a centre-back by trade. Fuller might not automatically get his place back. 6
Max Ehmer – the Gillingham stalwart kept Zanzala quiet through his exceptional reading of the game; he showed strong leadership qualities, too and was arguably Gillingham’s best outfield player. 8
Connor Ogilvie – the left-back turned centre-back produced a good performance; he was quick to snuff out attacks quickly and there was certainly an element of aggression to his game. 7
Thomas O’Connor – the versatile left-sider, on loan from Southampton, struggled to handle the combination of Johnson, Clark and Finley early on; he steadied himself after getting a bit more help in that department, but then endured an arduous second half. Did not offer quite as much as he might have liked going forward, which was not ideal with Byrne not providing the width ahead of him – needs to show more confidence. 4

Regan Charles-Cook – the athletic midfielder was at his best when he could find space ahead of him in which to drive into, but he rarely had that with Stanley being relatively compact in their defensive third – but he did on 59 minutes. After a smart lay-off, Charles-Cook was released in space and could take a touch to curl into the far corner. Not the busiest performance, but he ultimately proved the game-changer. 6
Alfie Jones – the sitting midfielder, also on loan from Southampton, has been arguably Gillingham’s most accomplished performer this term and he put in a good performance here, helping the visitors get a reasonable lid on the midfield. We did not see much from him from a technical perspective, but that might have been because there were not many long-range passing options on.  Drop deeper after the interval and thus ceded territory. 6
Stuart O’Keefe – the midfielder should, in theory at least, have been a good signing for Gillingham, given his Premier League experience; the 28-year-old took his time to assert himself on games but there may be signs, in the first half here, that he is starting to do so. Does not look shy to the dark arts: Reds fans were not happy with how Stuart O’Keefe fell over after contact from Sam Finley, who has a reputation for being overly aggressive – something Evans’ side tried to play on at certain points. 5
Mark Byrne – Player of the Year in 2017-18, Byrne’s return to fitness is welcome for Gillingham. We have seen at previous clubs like Newport, that he can dictate from deep but here, he was tasked with putting in a shift out wide and he did that well, supporting the press effectively by being determined to be first to every loose ball. 7

Mikael Mandron – the former Hartlepool front-man might not be Gillingham’s best striker individually, but he is the one that most enhances the team collectively when Steve Evans’ side go long from deep. Alas, the Gills could not quite bring his combination play with Hanlan to fruition as they would have liked and the 25-year-old was well marshalled on this occasion. 4
Brandon Hanlan – the young forward tried his best as always and showed a willingness to run in behind, but Mandron’s flick-ons did not always find the intended target. Plenty of persistence and perspiration, which fans appreciated when he was taken off in injury time – but not too much product. 5

Alex Jakubiak (on 63) – the wide forward loved to use his pace and power to cut inside from the left, so the closing stages of this match, with Stanley throwing the kitchen sink, suited his willingness to run in behind. 6
Olly Lee (on 76) – having been part of a successful Luton side – and scored from inside his own half in his career – Lee is a welcome addition to Gillingham and has brought various qualities to the midfield. The fact he is not a starting regular says the Gills have more depth than they have perhaps had in previous squads. 6
Mikael Ndjoli (on 90+2) – the versatile forward barely had a kick in his two minutes on the pitch.