KSN are proud to support:

Gillingham 2-1 Crewe Alexandra
Gillingham 2-1 Crewe Alexandra

Gillingham moved ten points clear of the relegation dotted line with what proved to be a controversial win against Crewe Alexandra under the Priestfield floodlights.

After a first half definitely played with both sides’ brakes on, Gillingham led through Tom Nichols’ first goal in eleven games only to be pegged back by Callum Ainley’s sensational volley.

Sub Aiden O’Brien swept the Gills back in front before the game descended into farce when a towering Oli Hawkins header was ruled out by referee Oldham, who then was called over to the Gills bench by fourth official Kelly, and Neil Harris was given a straight red card.

In the confusion that ensued, the Gills’ final change was delayed by the officials meaning that the five substitutions took place in four occasions rather than the “usual” three.

Even then the home faithful were grateful to a miraculous Cheye Alexander block and keeper Glenn Morris’ sensational late save in quick succession to seal the points,

The battle all night between Hawkins and Crewe defender Conor Thomas was one for the purists as the giant Hawkins was repeatedly penalised for very little whilst the defender was using every trick in the play book to try and keep the marauding Hawkins at bay.

The first half belied the drama that would come later as both sides seemed content on feeling the other out and as a result chances were at a premium.

Morris beat out an early header from a corner before the Gills got into their stride. Dom Jeffries shot a yard wide after Hawkins did well in the air and that was followed by two probing balls into the visitors box that were helped on but were unable to find a second blue shirt.

Arguably the best chance of the half fell to Crewe winger Dan Ageyi who after a great run beat a scrambling Morris but also the left post.

The second half began with the Gills on the front foot as Robbie McKenzie’s ball in from the left fell to Alex MacDonald who snatched at the shot and the chance was gone.

MacDonald though moments later intercepted a loose clearance before brilliantly finding Nichols who magnificently drilled the ball into the Crewe net past a despairing David Richards in goal.

Full back Rio Adebisi almost levelled with a freakish effort from wide on the left that beat Morris but bounced off the top of the crossbar and to safety.

The visitors did level a short time later as the home defence struggled to clear two corners and as the ball fell to Ainley, he acrobatically volleyed the ball into the top corner.

Harris then made a double change bringing O’Brien and George Lapslie for Jeffries and Tim Dieng and within three minutes the Gills were back in front. MacDonald again picked a defender’s pocket, exchanged passes with Nichols and O’Brien was on hand to sweep the through ball home past Richards for his first goal for the club sending the Rainham End wild with celebration.

Hawkins was leading the line magnificently despite being battered all round Priestfield with little or no protection from an ever increasingly fussy official – the big striker found O’Brien with a flick and Lapslie blasted an angled drive just too high.

MacDonald launched a probing ball into the box for O’Brien’s header to be beaten out before the late drama really started.

Alexander crossed from the right, and Hawkins did magnificently to time his run and jump to brilliantly power home a header that flew past Richards and into the net.

Referee Oldham blew immediately for a foul as Hawkins’ superbly timed jump had left defenders in his wake – a goal that his manager would surely have been proud of which is probably why Harris was totally incensed at the decision.

He took his protests to the fourth official, who called Oldham across and the referee sent Harris to the stands.

In the confusion that followed, the game continued and Crewe almost grabbed an underserved point, as a corner dropped in the box Alexander made an incredible block to deny a point blank shot and as the ball fell to Matus Holicek, Morris made an unbelievable block to keep the Gills in front by throwing himself in front of the Crewe substitute.

Eighteen points out of twenty-one at Priestfield as the revival goes from strength to strength.

The victory sees The Gills climb one place to 19th in League One, above Harrogate and crucially have that ten point buffer between them and the bottom two now.

With nine games left in the season to play, The Gills entertain high flying Carlisle United on Saturday knowing another win will all but secure their status in the league for another season.

Gillingham: Morris, Alexander (Tutonda 93), Ehmer, Masterson, McKenzie, Williams, Dieng (Lapslie 67), Jefferies (O’Brien 67), MacDonald (Wright 92), Hawkins, Nichols (Coleman 77).

Subs not used: Holtam, Abrahams.

Goals: Nichols (57), O’Brien (70).

Booked: MacDonald (11), Ehmer (95).

Sent Off: Harris (90).

Crewe Alexandra: Richards, Mellor, Offord, Adebisi, Tabiner, Ainley (Holicek 84), Thomas, Griffiths, Amoo (Baker-Richardson 69), Nevitt, Agyei

Subs not used: Lawton, Lunt, Webster, Kempster-Down.

Goal: Ainley (62).

Booked: Griffiths (42).

Referee: Mr James Oldham

Attendance: 5796 (89 Crewe)

Picture supplied by Gillingham Football Club.