The dismissal of Spiller with just ten minutes to go and the score standing at 3-3 after The Gills had trailed 3-1 was certainly a turning point in the game.
Going into those last ten minutes plus stoppages did put pressure on the home side and Hessenthaler believes things could have been so different had he stayed on the pitch.
Hessenthaler told the club’s official website: “If we had kept 11 on the field we might have won the game because the ascendancy was with us at that moment in time. They lost their way when we got it back to 3-3 and perhaps you could see we could have gone on to win. But our lad made a poor decision and got sent off. You can’t jump in like that these days.”
He added: “It was a poor decision and he will be disappointed. When we went down to 10 men it was always going to be difficult.
“I think we looked a little tired, the week we’ve had. Going to 10 against Plymouth and then in the game in midweek, so I thought we looked a little bit tired.
“We can’t be too down about it. We’ve got to go again and recover. We’ve been on a decent run and it’s a shame it has come to an end. The boys fought very hard.”
Nick Powell showed why he had represented for England Under 18’s as he dominated for Crewe, hitting a brace and pulling the strings around the park throughout the game.
Powell’s first half goal will no doubt be up there for Crewe’s goal of the season and their boss Steve Davis was more than delighted with his youngster, telling the club’s official website:
“He was brilliant. His first goal was exceptional, he just hit it from out of nowhere. It was unstoppable really. His second goal was struck in with his left foot, so that shows a different side to his game. He made the other goal for Ajay and he was a menace throughout the game.
“It was a really entertaining game for the supporters, it had everything in it. There was some fantastic play from us and some great goals. We were brilliant for most of it and pathetic for some of it.”
There were positives for Hessenthaler to take from the game with seventeen year old Ashley Miller scoring his first goal in a Gillingham shirt, whilst once again the side showed some fighting spirit battling back from 3-1 down to level before conceding late on.
However, it is that fighting spirit that will give them cause for concern for next weekend’s trip to Cheltenham.
Charlie Lee picked up his fifteenth booking of the season and will now sit out the next three games, Lewis Montrose picked up his tenth yellow of the season and will now be suspended for the next two games, whilst Joe Martin will still be serving the last game of his three match suspension.
Add to that, Danny Spiller will now miss the Cheltenham game, just after coming back from injury.
That means Hessenthaler will have four less players in which to choose from, with the squad already depleted by a raft of injuries.
Both Andy Frampton and Matt Fish could both come into contention for the game after stepping up their return from injury on the pitch at Priestfield before Saturday’s game. Striker Jo Kuffour could also be available at some point over the next week, whilst on loan winger Jordan Obita should be over a bout of tonsilitis.
So, with four players set to be suspended, the return of four more would certainly go a long way to cheering up Hessenthaler after the late goal on Saturday.