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17:01 15th October 2011



On a grey day on the English Riviera, the Gills hammered five great goals to end a difficult week on a bright note and make it a worthwhile trip for the 348 travelling Gills supporters.

Jo Kuffour hit the first two, Luke Rooney smashed home a penalty, Frank Nouble fired in the fourth before Chris Whelpdale's delicate chip rounded things off.

Gillingham boss Andy Hessenthaler made two injury enforced changes with Chris Whelpdale and Lewis Montrose replacing Danny Kedwell and Charlie Lee in a 4-3-3 formation. An inexperienced bench saw just two league starts between them (Stefan Payne and Callum Davies one apiece).

Both teams included strikers who have played for the opposition, Rene Howe was in the Gulls line-up while the Gills included Kuffour, the latter certainly coming out on top in that battle.

In the opening stages the Gills struggled to get the ball out of their own half, Eunan O'Kane shanked a shot well wide and Taiwo Atieno headed a Kevin Nicholson corner wide. When they did finally break forward they made it pay.

Just six minutes were on the clock when the Gills took the lead, a Luke Rooney corner was eventually half-cleared to the retreating Matt Lawrence who nodded the ball over the top of the Gulls defence for Kuffour to run onto, control and slot under the advancing Bobby Olejnik to register his first goal for the club.

In the 11th minute a low cross from the left found its way to Billy Bodin, who was coming in from the right, but his fierce strike was brilliantly turned aside by Ross Flitney.

Five minutes later another Rooney corner from the right proved the home defence problems, Kuffour hooked the ball across goal and a bouncing Lawrence effort was clutched by a thankful Olejnik.

Torquay had a few chances to level matters, Chris Robertson saw a seemingly goalbound header blocked, Howe put another header straight at Flitney before the Gills keeper turned another Bodin shot round the post.

The Gills should have been awarded a penalty in the 29th minute when Kuffour was seemingly pulled to the ground by Robertson but referee Oliver Langford thought otherwise.

Martin Ling's side thought they'd equalised on the half-hour, Danny Stevens low drive was spilt by Flitney and Atieno turned in the rebound. The home cheers and celebrations were cut short by the flag of referee's assistant Neil Radford.

A great flying save by Olejnik then denied Frank Nouble from around twenty yards and Lawrence should have done better than heading Rooney's resulting corner wide of the target.

In the 38th minute a slip by Lawrence at the back allowed Bodin to get free, his pass set up a angled shot from Lee Mansell that Flitney again kept out well.

Five minutes from half-time the Gills struck again. From a free-kick out on the right, Joe Martin touched the ball to Rooney who curled a great ball across the face of goal to find Kuffour who managed to squeeze the ball under the home keeper from close range to record his 100th career goal.

The visitors had a great chance to go further ahead when Olejnik flapped at a Nouble cross and Rooney, who beat Kuffour to the ball, saw his header blocked on the line by Brian Saah.

Soon afterwards the whole press-box, which to be fair was not in the best position in the ground due to redevelopments at Plainmoor, missed an incident involving Lawrence and Howe which left the veteran Gills defender writhing in agony, strangely while the free-kick was awarded to the home side, the referee proceeded to book Howe.

As the half came to a close Flitney had to react quickly to take the ball off the toes of Atieno.

H/T: 0 - 2

Having looked comfortable at the break it was something of a surprise when after just six minutes of the second-half the Gills found themselves back on level terms following a spirited fightback by the Gulls.

Torquay pulled the first one back from the first chance of the second-half just two minutes in. O'Kane knocked in a corner from the right and Robertson rose rather easily to plant a downward header beyond Flitney.

Things then got worse for Gillingham in the 51st minute when United scored again. Howe knocked a ball down the right, the diminutive Stevens outpaced Matt Fish and struck a low left-foot shot across Flitney and inside of the far post.

A shell-shocked Gills looked to hit back with Rooney firing just wide while at the other end Flitney just got a hand to Howe's attempted close range lob.

The Gills did however restore their lead from a 56th minute penalty. O'Kane mistimed a challenge on Kuffour who had wriggled his way into a shooting position and referee Langford pointed immediately to the spot. With Kedwell sidelined, Rooney stepped up to strike the spot-kick inside Olejnik's left-hand post, much to the delight of the travelling Gills fans behind the goal.

Garry Richards became the first Gillingham player to be cautioned for a foul on Robertson.

Some more neat footwork from Kuffour sa him eventually fire a ball across the face of goal which Nouble was unable to get the ball from under his feet allowing the Gulls to clear.

Montrose went into the book in the 71st minute for a heavy challenge on Saah.

An absolutely brilliant run from Rooney set up the Gills fourth in the 77th minute. The attacking midfielder cut out a Nicholson cross on the edge of his own area and set off on a terrific run of around 60-odd yards towards the United goal. After holding off Halpin en route he laid the ball off to Nouble on the edge of the area and the West Ham loanee confidently fired home inside the far post, the third goal of his loan spell.

When Payne replaced Kuffour with four minutes remaining he received great applause from the three used sides of the ground.

In the 90th minute Whelpdale wrapped things up with a fifth goal, a delightfully whipped cross-cum-shot from wide on the right dropping behind Olejnik and in at the far post.

Whelpdale was immediately rewarded by being substituted with Jack Evans coming on for his debut and the youngster enjoyed some neat touches inthe closing minutes.

The Gills almost repeated the six goals netted at Hereford earlier in the season but Payne was inches away with a late cross shot.

This afternoon's nap hand means that Gillingham have now scored more goals on their travels this season than any other side in the division.

The win left Andy Hessenthaler's side in ninth place in a crowded League Two table and they are just two points off third-placed Oxford United, their opponents at MEMS Priestfield Stadium next Saturday.

United: Olejnik, Nicholson, Robertson, Saah, Mansell, Howe,O'Kane, Bodin, Oastler, Stevens, Atieno (Halpin 76)

Unused subs: Ellis, Rice, McPhee, Lathrope

Gills: Flitney, Richards, Whelpdale (Evans 90), Weston, Martin, Rooney , Lawrence, Fish, Montrose, Nouble, Kuffour (S Payne 86)

Unused subs: Davies, Essam, Gazzaniga

Attendance: 2582 (348 Gills)

Officials -
Referee: Oliver Langford
Assistants: Richard Corp and Neil Radford
Fourth Official: Kevin Johnson


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