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14:02 26th February 2012

Simon King Torquay 640


Gillingham ended their run of seven games without a win with a 2-0 victory over Torquay United at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium.

Simon King headed the Gills into a deserved lead six minutes half-time and Danny Kedwell wrapped up the points from the spot deep into injury time after the Gulls had Joe Oastler - possibly the victim of mistaken identity - sent off.

Manager Andy Hessenthaler named the same side for a third consecutive game - the only change coming on the bench where Charlie Lee returned to replace Daren Hawkes, meaning no substitute keeper would be available.

Martin Ling made two changes to his Torquay team - Rene Howe and Damon Lathrope replacing Chris McPhee and Taiwo Atieno.

The Gills could have been behind in as early as the second minute. Some clever footwork by Danny Stevens on the left-hand side gave him opportunity to shoot into the far corner, and with Gazzaniga beaten the ball struck the woodwork and was eventually cleared.

The home side had more of the ball in the first quarter of an hour, the best opportunity falling to Gavin Tomlin whose right foot effort went just a yard or so wide of Robert Olejnik's left hand post.

Howe struck straight at Gazzaniga a few moments later, and a Chris Whelpdale header was comfortably stopped by Olejnik shortly afterwards.

On 22 minutes the Gills very nearly opened the scoring. A break on the left from Curtis Weston into the box resulted in a blocked shot - the ball wriggled free just between Olejnik and Jo Kuffour, but the keeper cleared just in time to prevent an almost certain goal.

On the half hour mark Ian Morris was played in by former Gills striker Howe on the right side of the penalty area, but he didn't connect as well as he may have liked and Gazzaniga had the simple task of gathering with both hands.

The Argentine didn't put a foot wrong in the first 45 minutes - he claimed every cross comfortably and was certainly proving he can handle the responsibility of being number one goalkeeper.

Kuffour and the excellent Tomlin continued to apply pressure at the other end, but the defence stayed strong and stopped the shots from coming in.

A Mark Ellis header from a corner was the final meaningful action of the first half, with neither side able to break the deadlock.

H/T: 0-0

The opening minute of the restart saw opportunities for both sides to take the lead.

Tomlin's cross from the left was just inches away from Kuffour's right foot, and on the counter attack Howe was just about to get his shot away when Connor Essam put in a tremendous last-ditch challenge to deny him.

On 51 minutes Gillingham deservedly opened the scoring. A Danny Jackman corner was flicked on by Kedwell and King met it with a diving hearder low into the bottom corner for his first goal for the club since February 2009.

Five minutes later the advantage could have been doubled. A long kick by Gazzaniga bounced over the head of the last defender and into the path of Tomlin, he shifted his body to the right hand side and his curling effort was deflected out for a corner.

With the fans right behind them the Gills continued to press and bossed possession for long spells, while King and Essam at the other end did all they could to prevent an equalizer.

The supporters gave a warm reception to the returning Charlie Lee in the 71st minute when he replaced Curtis Weston.

In the 83rd minute Lewis Montrose nearly made an immediate impact after coming on as a substitute for Kuffour. He received the ball little over 20 yards from goal and struck with the outside of his right boot.

Olejnik looked certain it was going wide, although the bend on the ball nearly surprised the Torquay stopper as the midfielder's strike hit the side netting.

Two minutes later he had an even better chance following a Jackman corner. King failed to connect with a header, the ball was cleared into the path of Montrose who took a touch before hitting a right foot shot. Olejnik was stranded but the ball went a yard wide of the post.

With just a couple of minutes left to play the Priestfield descended into a nervous hush as three points came ever closer - Gazzaniga, after being booked, continued to be a presence between the sticks and was looking for his second clean sheet in a row.

With the game deep into stoppage time the Gills won a penalty as Tomlin was brought down inside the area by Brian Saah.

The referee initially waved away the protests before pointing to the spot having seen his linesman flag on the far side.

The referee appeared to send off the wrong player as it was Oastler who was given his marching orders - a decision Gulls boss Martin Ling intends to appeal.

Kedwell stepped up to convert the penalty and there was barely time for the Gulls to kick off as the Gills were able to celebrate their first win since January 2.

Gills: Gazzaniga, Evans, Essam, King, Jackman, Tomlin, Weston (C Lee 71), Payne, Whelpdale, Kedwell, Kuffour (Montrose 79).

Unused subs: O Lee, Martin, Richards.

Torquay: Olejnik, Nicholson, Ellis, Saah, Mansell, Howe, O'Kane, Morris (Atieno 64), Oastler, Stevens, Lathrope (McPhee 81).

Unused subs: Rice, Rowe-Turner, MacDonald.

Referee: Mr J Waugh

Attendance: 4,865 (236 Torquay)

Bookings: Howe (5), Payne (74), Gazzaniga (85)

Goals: King (51), Kedwell (90)

Man of the Match: Simon King


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