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18:03 5th March 2011

Bayo Akinfenwa heads home against the Bantams


Goals from Adebayo Akinfenwa and Curtis Weston in a five minute spell either side of the break, ensured that the Gills took the three points against a battling Bradford who were trying to impress temporary new boss Peter Jackson.

The victory, which extended the unbeaten run to nine games, was the first win since beating Rotherham United early in February following four consecutive draws.

It was a dour game in which the Gills defended resolutely throughout, led by Garry Richards and Matt Lawrence, and although there were a few miscued clearances here and there, keeper Alan Julian didn't have too much to do in registering the clubs twelfth cleansheet of the season.

Unfortunately the opening 45 minutes was spoilt by the fussy refereeing of Steve Rushton who took centre-stage. He constantly blew for innocuous free-kicks and often missed other more seemingly blatant things. One major decision that he seemed to get wrong was when Andy Barcham looked like he was pulled down in the area by Lewis Hunt but he failed to give a penalty but thankfully it wasn't going to cost the Gills.

After three games unchanged, Gills boss Andy Hessenthaler brought Barcham into the starting line-up in place of Danny Jackman who dropped to the bench, he took up the left-side of midfield mantle in a flat 4-4-2 formation. Former Gillingham captain Michael Flynn was skipper of the Bantams.

The game kicked-off six minutes later than scheduled due to the late withdrawal of the fourth official, one of the Gills Sales team Mike Sullivan took over those duties. A power problem also meant that the electronic scoreboard on the Gordon Road stand wasn't working.

When the game eventually kicked-off, it was Bradford that started brightly.

First of all Luke Oliver had no trouble rising above the Gillingham defence, he's huge anyway, but powered a header wide then Gareth Evans drilled a shot wide at the near post.

The Gills best response came in the eighth minute when John Nutter launched a ball forward which was chased by Cody McDonald but he was denied by a perfectly timed challenge from Luke O'Brien.

In the 20th minute Kevin Maher became the first recipient of a yellow card for something he said.....

After giving Gillingham another free-kick, when playing on looked a better option, he found it necessary to call aside the two skippers, Flynn and Barry Fuller - maybe he was trying to explain his strange decisions!

After Jake Speight had crashed a great chance wide, Fuller became the second player booked for protesting over another challenge.

The Gills had a let-off from the resultant free-kick when O'Brien fired the ball goalwards which Kevin Ellison flicked home, luckily the on-loan Rotherham winger was offside.

Left-back O'Brien then got forward again to crash a shot inches wide before City lost Jon Worthington with a possible head injury when he and Barcham collided unintentionally.

Bradford substitute Lee Bullock who was warming up on the touchline was the next player to be booked after denying the Gills an opportunity to take a quick throw-in.

Ellison then went close with a 30-yarder which Julian touched round and from the resultant corner, Evans parted the travelling City fans with a rising thunderbolt after Fuller had done well to clear Oliver's downward header.

Hunt was booked in the 41st minute following another strange decision. Barcham had shrugged his attentions and gone clear but the official decided to stop the move and call play-back to book the defender instead of waiting to see how the move panned out.

A minute later the Gills took the lead. Following a John Nutter free-kick, Jack Payne fed the ball out to Curtis Weston who clipped the ball to the far post where Adebayo Akinfenwa rose above his marker to plant a firm header wide of Lenny Pidgeley in the City goal. It was his ninth goal of the campaign.

In the closing stages the referee still had time to turn down Bantams appeals for a penalty when James Hanson went down in the area following a challenge from Payne.

H/T: 1-0

The Gills went two-up just 36 seconds into the second-half, Weston took the ball off O'Brien and burst forward to hammer home from the edge of the area giving Pidgeley no chance. It was the midfielders third goal in five games.

Bradford looked to hit back but following a short spell where the ball bounced around the Gills area, Speight saw a fierce shot blocked.

Weston and Payne both failed to hit the target with efforts from the edge of the box before City failed to take a great chance to pull one back in the 66th minute. A left-wing corner from Evans was met at the far post by the unmarked Hanson but he put his header the wrong side of the post.

In the 72nd minute McDonald almost ended his mini goal drought, he rose to meet a left-wing Maher corner and sent a header arrowing towards the top corner until Pidgeley got across to help the ball over the bar.

McDonald then broke through but his saw his initial shot blocked then the second hit Flynn before going behind. From the resulting corner Richards had a downward header cleared off the line by Steve Williams.

Fresh legs were introduced in the 77th minute with Dennis Oli and Joe Martin replacing Weston and Barcham, who had both worked tirelessly, and a bit later Luke Rooney took over from Akinfenwa who had been in a major battle all afternoon against the no-nonsense City rearguard.

The Gills were happy to see out time and successfully did so without too many problems at either end.

Results elsewhere in League Two weren't particularly kind but the Gills still remain seventh in the table.

Attendance: 5019 (193 Bradford)

Gillingham: Julian, Fuller, Richards, Lawrence, Nutter, Weston (Oli 77), J.Payne, Maher, Barcham (Martin 77), McDonald, Akinfenwa (Rooney 83).

Unused subs: Cronin, Bentley, Sinclair, Jackman

Bradford City: Pidgeley, Oliver, O'Brien, Evans, Speight, Williams, Hunt, Flynn, Worthington (Adeyemi 35), Ellison (Dobie 68), Hanson.

Unused subs: Threlfall, McLaughlin, Bullock, Syers, Osborne.


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.