The Gills put an end to their winless run in style, defeating Chesterfield 3-0 at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday. Goals from Dominic Samuel and Josh Wright, plus an own goal ensured the Gills left with all three points on a pleasing afternoon for Justin Edinburgh’s side.
There was one change in the starting XI from last Saturday’s well-earned point away Scunthorpe, with Jake Hessenthaler making way for Jermaine McGlashan.
Edinburgh started with an attacking 3-5-2 formation, with McGlashan and Brennan Dickenson deployed as wing-backs.
It was one-way traffic for the first 10 minutes, as Gills came out of traps on the front foot and with real attacking intent. The visitors were pegged back in their own box for the opening stages, but eventually made it into the Gills half on 11 minutes, albeit momentarily.
The Gills made their dominance count a minute later. McGlashan ran past the left-back with ease and hung a ball in at the back post, where it was met by Luke Norris. The striker did extremely well to knock it back across goal to DOMINIC SAMUEL, who applied the finishing touch with his head, leaving Ben Garratt with no chance.
Minutes later the Gills had another opportunity to test the keeper when Jon Guthrie fouled George Williams. Norris took the resulting free-kick and tried his luck from 30-yards, however could not make it past the wall.
McGlashan has not had a big part to play in the season so far, but was a constant threat to the Railwaymen this afternoon driving down the right-wing and causing Guthrie plenty of problems.
Adam El Abd went into the book just before half-time for a professional foul on George Cooper, who looked to be in on goal with plenty of space ahead of him.
Crewe’s best effort of the match came on the stroke of half time. The ball dropped to Zoumana Bakayogo on the 18-yard line, and the winger’s left-foot volley crashed the post. Apart from this, the visitors were reduced to speculative long-ranged shots that hardly threatened Stuart Nelson in goal.
It was a completely different display from the Scunthorpe game, with the Gills first to every ball and aided by the front players chasing every ball down. The home team went into the break in complete control.
The second half began the same as the first, with George Williams finding plenty of space in the middle of the park and constantly looking to go forward with the ball and attack.
The playmaker was nearly on the score sheet on 55 minutes, after great interplay between Doug Loft and Norris, Williams beat his man before curling a low shot towards the keeper’s bottom left-hand corner. Garratt was able to palm the shot away for a corner and the Gills kept piling on the pressure.
Edinburgh’s men doubled their advantage on 62 minutes thanks to an own goal from Guthrie. Josh Wright played in Samuel with a clever header on the right-hand side of the box, and the striker’s effort crashed against the bar before bouncing off the Crewe defender into the net.
The following 15 minutes was an end-to-end affair with both sides failing to make a telling pass but spending time in each other’s territories. The final-ball was lacking for both teams as the Gills looked to put the game to bed, and Crewe searched for an opening that would set up a nervy end to the game.
Substitute Jake Hessenthaler nearly scored a goal of the season contender on 81 minutes, latching onto Williams’ pass and rifling a shot that swerved away from the top corner at the last minute.
Crewe had the ball in the back of the net in the dying moments, but the goal was ruled offside – much to the delight of the home faithful. It was a great ball in by Bakayoko that beat everyone in the middle of the 6-yard box and tapped in at the far post by Marcus Haber, but the linesman’s flag went straight up.
The Gills settled the match at the death, as WRIGHT got on the score sheet with his first for the club. After neat passing in the corner, McGlashan beat his man at the by-line and cut the ball back for Wright who slotted home from 10-yards.
The win gets the Gills promotion challenge back on track and gives the team momentum going into next week’s local clash with Southend.
Gillingham: Nelson, Morris, Ehmer, El-Abd (Garmston, 46), McGlashan, Dickenson, Wright, Loft (Hessenthaler, 63), Williams, Norris (Donnelly, 81), Samuel
Unused subs: G. Morris, Osadebe, Oldaker
Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Davies (Kirk, 46), Nugent, Guthrie, Cooper, Fox (Bingham, 64), Jones, Bakayago, Hitchcock (Ainley, 64), Haber
Unused subs: Ray, Atkinson, Richards, Ng
Attendance: 5,656 (146 away)
Referee: Keith Hill