Bradford City 1 (Poleon 48)
Saturday 24th March 2018 | Sky Bet League One | Northern Commercials Stadium
The Bantams ended an eleven-game run without success to bounce back to winning ways with a hard-fought and narrow victory against Gillingham. Dominic Poleon scored from twenty yards out early in the second half to edge Simon Grayson's side ahead, and City battled hard thereafter to get themselves over the line for their first three-point haul under the Bantams boss.
Fresh from claiming his second cap for Ireland as recently as Friday evening, Colin Doyle was able to keep his place in the side after flying back from Turkey.
Poleon and Stephen Warnock were brought into the side, however, with Tyrell Robinson missing out after picking up an injury at Doncaster Rovers last Monday.
As many might have expected, the game started very much in the balance. The first couple of half chances of the afternoon belonged to Gillingham and after Bradley Garmston dragged a shot wide of the target, Matthew Kilgallon made an important block to stop Conor Wilkinson's shot hitting the target.
Callum Guy, who was probably the best player on the pitch for the Bantams, saw a rasping angled drive diverted behind for a corner by Gillingham defender. Garmston has another attempt shortly afterwards that failed to hit the target, before Callum Reilly's thunderous strike from distance fizzed inches over the bar.
Gillingham had a decent spell of pressure with a number of corners and crosses going into the box needing to be dealt with. One chance of note in this peroid of time belonged to Gabriel Zakuani who headed wide of the target from Garmston's cross whilst under pressure from Nathaniel Knight-Percival.
Poleon had his first significant involvement in the final third in the latter stages of the first half but he couldn't hit the target with a shot on the turn before Colin Doyle had to make a save to keep out Wilkinson's header down the other end. The Irish stopper received deserved credit for playing and earning a clean sheet less than 24 hours after playing in Turkey for the Republic of Ireland.
Scott Wagstaff and Callum Guy went close before Wagstaff went close again shortly afterwards, when Garmston had ended a promising counter-attack with a low cut-back into his direction.
Gillingham probably created the most significant play in the final third in the first half, but the first chance of the second half brought the first goal. Poleon received the ball in a pocket of space central to goal and he set sights with a low 20-yard drive which found the bottom corner.
Guy had an opportunity a couple of minutes later to double City's lead, but his low drive from outside the box was straight at Tomas Holy who made a routine stop to keep him at bay.
Tom Eaves, Gillingham's leading scorer, was brought on as a substitute and he caused one or two problems for the Bantams. Kai Bruenker was brought on by Simon Grayson's side and he certainly proved to be a nuisance for the opposition defenders.
The German forward's first involvement was to play a neat one-two with Poleon before seeing a well-struck shot held onto by Holy. Eaves himself had his first involvement shortly afterwards - he set his sights with a low drive from the edge of the box which was watched all the way and grasped onto alertly by Doyle.
Wilkinson passed up a decent opportunity to level the scores with time very much against Steve Lovell's side; heading over the bar from inside the six-yard box after connecting with Garmston's cross. In injury time the Gills forward saw a free-kick in a promising position deflect behind for a corner. Seconds later, Eaves missed out on a great chance to scramble home a late leveller from close range to leave City breathing a huge sigh of relief.