Blackpool 4-1 Gillingham
Blackpool 4-1 Gillingham

Gillingham’s Easter Monday trip to the seaside ended in despair for Steve Evans’ side as they slumped to their biggest defeat of the season, and more importantly lost valuable ground in the hunt for the League One Play Offs.

The Gills headed for the Golden Mile with high hopes after recent tremendous performances at Hull City and Lincoln City, but left well beaten and with the post season dreams battered as Blackpool made it thirteen games without defeat – their best run in nearly thirty years!

For Evans and his side, it would have been a long trip back to Kent as all they had to show for their efforts was Jordan Graham’s twelfth goal of the season after some good work from John Akinde. But the Gills simply had no answer as they left Lancashire on the wrong end of a four-one beating.

Evans named the same side that had eased past Wigan Athletic in midweek, as the Gills looked to make it six unbeaten. But it started badly for the visitors and sadly, got worse… 

Jerry Yates is Blackpool’s top scorer and didn’t have to wait long for his nineteenth of the season as the ball was played back towards Jack Bonham early on, but instead of finding the keeper, the ball fell into the path of Yates who accepted the gift to give the home side the perfect start.

The Gills though had a golden chance to level just moments later but after winning possession, Akinde just couldn’t find Vadaine Oliver with the pull back and the chance was gone. Graham though was to be the next recipient of good Akinde work, and this time the ball flew past Chris Maxwell in the home goal as it nestled in the bottom corner.

The home side regained the lead on twenty minutes when Yates netted number 20 for the season as he touched home Luke Garbutt’s free kick and the lead was extended – and the game was effectively over – on the half hour. Sully Kaikai broke into the Gills area down the right and drove the ball past a despairing Bonham and into the bottom corner.

The visitors needed something back quickly – and they nearly got it! Stuart O’Keefe sent a low drive towards the bottom corner, but Maxwell produced a brilliant fingertip save to deny the midfielder as the home side headed for the break with a two-goal cushion.

Gillingham knew that if they were to get anything out of the game, they had to get the next goal, and although the visitors started brightly, the home side sealed the points just past the hour when Eliot Embleton made it four-one as Kaikai turned provider with a swift break down the left.

It really wasn’t the Gills day, and it could have ended even worse had Connor Ogilvie not brilliantly blocked sub – Ellis Simms’ late chance by which time the points had been long since secured and the visitors’ Play Off dreams moved that bit further away from reality.

After a magnificent March brought his side into Play Off contention, Steve Evans said that he hoped that his side would be within six points of the top six when they left Bloomfield Road.

And with Lincoln’s fixtures currently suspended by COVID protocols, the manager’s wish appears to have come true, but with just six games left, the manager will be the first to concede, that if the Play Off dreams have any hope of becoming reality, victory over Shrewsbury Town at Priestfield on Saturday is now imperative…

BLACKPOOL – Maxwell, Turton, Ballard, Thorniley, Garbutt, Emberton (Lawrence-Gabriel 67), Ward, Dougall, Kaikai (Mitchell 86), Simms, Yates (Robson 86).

Subs not used – Husband, Ekpiteta, Gretarsson, Moore.

Goals: Yates (5), (20), Kaikai (30), Embleton (61).

Booked: Embleton (39).

GILLINGHAM – Bonham, Jackson, Tucker, Ogilvie, O’Connor, O’Keefe, Dempsey, Graham, MacDonald (Lee 59), Akinde (Samuel 60), Oliver.

Subs not used – Bastien, Woods, Johnson, Willock, McKenzie.

Goal: Graham (14).

Booked: O’Keefe (34).

REFEREE – Mr Darren Drysdale