Gillingham 3-1 Ipswich: Paul Cook gets off to losing start
Paul Cook was overseeing his first game as Ipswich boss | Photo by Harry Hubbard - Getty Images

A Vadaine Oliver brace condemned Paul Cook to a losing start as Ipswich Town boss on Saturday afternoon.

The Gills were mostly dominant in an intense tactical battle in Kent, and Jack Tucker gave them the lead in the first-half. Luke Chambers equalised for Ipswich in the second-period, but a Vadaine Oliver brace ensured Gillingham won the three points on offer.

Story of the match

First-half

The game started in even fashion, but Gillingham were ahead early on. With the direct approach clear, set pieces were always going to be vital for Gillingham, and it was a Tom O’Connor free kick that helped put them ahead. Robbie Cundy won the flick on from the cross, and Jack Tucker was unmarked at the far post to fire past former Gills ‘keeper Tomas Holy.

Gillingham could have had a penalty on 16 minutes when Jordan Graham hit the deck, but the referee suggested the foul was outside the area. Kyle Dempsey fired over from the resulting free kick, but there was no doubt that Gillingham had started the better of the two teams.

Ipswich struggled to get into the game, and new Tractor Boys manager Paul Cook has his head in his hands as a mix up from a throw resulted in another unforced error from his side. The Gillingham bench roared.

Josh Harrop has the visitors’ first shot in anger almost 25 minutes into the game, but Tucker blocked well as the Gills continued to control proceedings.

Town were almost level on half-hour when Troy Parrott hit the post. After a good move down the right, a floated cross was met by the Tottenham loanee, but his acrobatic effort struck Jack Bonham’s left-hand post.

James Norwood found himself with a chance as half-time approached, latching onto a long ball over the top after an error from Tom O’Connor. Gills goalscorer Tucker, however, got back to recover well and get a block in.

Neither team could test their opposing goalkeeper again as the half drew to a close, and there was plenty for new Town manager Cook to ponder at the interval.

Second-half

Vadaine Oliver dragged wide the first chance of the second-period following good word from Connor Ogilvie and Tom O’Connor, and Gillingham continued their first-half pressure in the early stages.

Vadaine Oliver almost had the chance to double Gillingham’s lead when he was played through, but he struggled to get the ball out of his feet before he was able to pull the trigger.

The half continued at a high intensity but neither ‘keeper was really tested until Olly Lee flicked a tame header into Tomas Holy’s hands from close range - he probably should have scored.

Ipswich, however, equalised on 65 minutes. Tom O’Connor was penalised for a trip - a decision Gills boss Steve Evans protested vigorously - and captain Luke Chambers headed in the resulting free kick. Just like that, we were all square.

Paul Cook rang the changes as he tried to get his side ahead, but it was Gillingham that struck. As Ipswich tried to get forward, Gillingham broke with Graham, Dempsey and Oliver all involved. Dempsey won a foot race on the right and crossed for Oliver, and the forward fired past Holy to put the Gills back ahead.

And just moments later, the Gillingham were two ahead. With Tomas Holy in no man’s land, substitute John Akinde shot from distance but saw his effort blocked. The ball fell to Oliver again however, who cut in from the left and cut inside his man to curl excellently into to the far corner on 81 minutes.

A break in play followed after Jack Tucker took a blow to the head, and, after seven minutes of stoppage time, Gillingham’s win was confirmed, condemning Paul Cook to a losing start as Ipswich manager.

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