Dack 85, Hessenthaler 87
by Rick Cowdery
ARGYLE were frustratingly on the wrong end of a late goal-burst in their Capital One Cup first-round tie at Home Park on Tuesday night.
The Derek Adams’ era continued impressively for the first 85 minutes of the new gaffer’s competitive home bow, with substitute Craig Tanner having given them a deserved lead from a spectacular 78th-minute penalty-area volley.
However, late goals from Sky Bet League 1 Gills midfielders Bradley Dack and Jake Hessenthaler inflicted a first defeat on the fresh managerial regime.
Adams had elected to go into the game with the same starting 11 and seven substitutes that had begun his reign with a 2-0 Sky Bet League 2 victory away to AFC Wimbledon. In these early days, when we are still learning about the new gaffer’s personality, preferences and peccadilloes, we can maybe chalk up loyalty and fairness against his name.
Gillingham, early leaders of League 1 after dismissing Sheffield United 4-0 at the Priestfield on opening day, tweaked their line-up a little, promoting Jake Hessenthaler and Jermaine McGlashan from the bench.
Their blunting of the Blades had owed much to Ryan Jackson’s long throw-in and Dack’s set-piece delivery, and Argyle had an early taste of both, with Pilgrims’ goalkeeper Luke McCormick purposely dominating his domain to mark his territory.
It soon became evident that Jake Jervis was a passenger and Argyle’s leading scorer in their goal-heavy pre-season limped out of the action after 11 minutes, indicating a groin problem, and was replaced by young Royal anner.
The latest addition to the Adams’ football family was immediately to the fore, picking out Gregg Wylde, who took a touch too much before shooting against Stuart Nelson’s body.
He was involved again in a move that saw Graham Carey cushion a header on to Carl McHugh’s normally trusty left peg, but the Irishman snatched at the opportunity.
Gillingham’s first sight of McCormick’s goal came from Luke Norris’s on-target but non-tricky free-kick before Tanner was at it again, teasing his way to the bye-line before sending over a cross that was nipped off the head of Wylde.
The second half took a wee while to spark into life. After a some sparring, Argyle twice attempted to deliver a blow to the visitors within 30 seconds. First, Hiram Boateng’s low drive from long range was tipped round the post by Gillingham’s Nelson, and, from the resulting corner, a goalmouth scramble ended with Argyle’s Nelson mishitting the ball with his wrong left foot.
The Gills were about the Greens soon afterwards when McCormick spilled the ball after jarring his elbow on the turf but Dack’s attempt to profit from the spillage failed as he fired wide of a goal absent of an Argyle custodian from the edge of the penalty area.
Dack was on target from much closer range moments later but, after some discussion between referee Kevin Johnson and his assistant, it was decided that a Gillingham team-mate, as well as Kelvin Mellor, had been involved in the build-up.
Margins. Within minutes, Argyle were ahead. Mellor set up Tanner for his big moment with a such a perfectly delivered cutback from the right bye-line that the scorer had time to set himself and measure the dropping ball before executing a perfect volleyed finish.
Then, the first blot on the Adams’ copybook. Dack seized on some hesitancy among the Argyle rearguard to drive through the exposed middle and dink a chip over McCormick.
Worse followed in the Gills’ next attack, when substitute Rory Donnelly broke down the right and found Hessenthaler at the far post, stooping low to nod the ball home and the tie beyond Argyle’s reach.
Argyle(4-2-3-1): 23 Luke McCormick; 2 Kelvin Mellor, 5 Curtis Nelson (capt), 6 Peter Hartley, 3 Gary Sawyer; 4 Carl McHugh, 20 Hiram Boateng; 14 Jake Jervis (27 Craig Tanner 11), 10 Graham Carey, 11 Gregg Wylde (17 Ryan Brunt 78); 9 Reuben Reid (8 Josh Simpson 84). Substitutes (not used): 7 Lee Cox, 16 Ben Purrington, 19 Aaron Bentley, 21 James Bittner (gk).
Booked: Sawyer 50.
Gillingham (4-2-3-1): 1 Stuart Nelson; 2 Ryan Jackson, 4 John Egan (capt), 50 Adedeji Oshilaja, 24 Brennan Dickenson; 6 Jordan Houghton, 9 Ben Williamson (44 Josh Wright 69); 11 Jermaine McGlashan (3 Bradley Garmston 59), 23 Bradley Dack, 8 Jake Hessenthaler; 19 Luke Norris (17 Rory Donnelly 84). Substitutes (not used): 5 Max Ehmer, 12 Glenn Morris (gk), 20 Callum Davies.
Booked: Hessenthaler 36.
Referee: Kevin Johnson.
Attendance: 5,120 (272 away).