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Gillingham 3 City 1
City suffered the first-day blues in League Two as they went down 3-1 in the sweltering heat at Gillingham.
Danny Kedwell’s double, including a penalty, set the home side on the way. Nahki Wells offered hopes of a comeback with his own spot-kick before Myles Weston’s debut strike made sure of the points two minutes from time.
It was a disappointment for the 400 travelling fans after the cup win at Notts County the week before.
Phil Parkinson had named the same team and Matt Duke, preferred to Jon McLaughlin again in goal, made a sensational reaction save to keep out Andy Frampton’s header.
Then Gary Jones cleared off the line from Kedwell from the resulting corner as Gillingham pushed for an early goal.
But City thought they should have had a penalty when Kyel Reid was clumsily knocked down by Charlie Allen. Parkinson certainly thought so and made his point to the fourth official.
Reid was causing a few headaches in the home defence, linking well with James Meredith on City’s left side.
But the heat did not make it easy and ref Mick Russell wisely blew for a drinks break on the half hour.
Duke produced another excellent block to deny Danny Jackman’s close-range jab. But the keeper had no chance as Danny Kedwell held off Rory McArdle and his cross-shot on the turn dropped inside the far post to give Gillingham a 43rd-minute lead.
But there was no excuse for the home side’s second nine minutes after the break. Will Atkinson brought down Charlie Lee with a lazy challenge on the byline and Kedwell blasted home the penalty.
Parkinson threw on Wells and new boy Zavon Hines – and within four minutes, the Bermudian had thrown his side a lifeline with a spot-kick of his own after being pulled down by Frampton.
Hines scuffed his shot after a dangerous run into the box and Jones half-volleyed over as City pushed for an equaliser. James Hanson also drove wide.
But Gillingham killed off any comeback hopes when Myles Weston beat a stretched defence to drive across the diving Duke.