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11:23 5th March 2012

Martin cuts in from the left


Gillingham made it three straight wins for the first time this season after defeating Plymouth Argyle 1-0 at Home Park with just 10 men.

Joe Martin's 35-yard stunner midway through the first half was enough to separate the sides, but the full-back was given his marching orders shortly after the goal for a second bookable offence.

Despite playing much of the game one man down, the Gills rallied and defended well for much of the second half to claim all three points.

Alex MacDonald hit the bar and Luke Young came close with a right foot shot, but Paulo Gazzaniga kept a clean sheet much to the relief of the fans and management.

Andy Hessenthaler made five changes to his side following the 5-4 win over Hereford. Jack Evans, Curtis Weston, Jack Payne, Danny Kedwell and Connor Essam all missed out.

None of which made the substitutes bench which would indicate these changes were forced upon the manager. Garry Richards, Joe Martin, Lewis Montrose, Ollie Lee and Charlie Lee came in as replacements.

There was a surprise return to the squad for Danny Spiller who has only just returned to first team training - new signing Jordan Obita and youngster Ashley Miller were also among the substitutes.

Plymouth made just one change - Ashley Hemmings coming in for Luke Daley who had to make do with a place on the bench.

In the opening few minutes the Gills had a couple of half chances to score first.

Jo Kuffour failed to latch on to a Gavin Tomlin cross before Simon King then headed wide from a Danny Jackman corner.

A sixth minute corner by Jackman created the first real opportunity.

Lee threw himself at the ball to connect with a near post header, but keeper Jake Cole got down quickly and made an impressive save before the ball was hooked clear.

Ten minutes later and Tomlin should have done better with his first chance of the game.

Jackman played a fantastic ball in to the striker on the left channel, but on his weaker foot he hit a tame effort and Cole gathered comfortably.

On 23 minutes the Gills did finally take the lead through an unlikely source. Martin picked the ball up 35 yards from goal after Tomlin had his initial strike blocked.

When it seemed his only option was a cross he caught the ball cleanly, and with Cole off his line the ball flew into the top right-hand corner of the net to put the Gills a goal up.

It was his first goal of the season and came at a good time with the visitors having had the majority of possession and chances in the opening minutes.

A minute later though and it should have been all square. Hemmings delivered a great ball into the cross for Chadwick, and with the centre forward thinking he had scored, Gazzaniga pulled off a great save to his left hand side to maintain the deficit.

Just after the half hour mark the Gills were down to 10 men when the goal scorer was sent off for his second bookable offence.

He brought down an Argyle player on the edge of the box, and despite protests from Jackman and Richards the full-back was dismissed for the third time this season.

Soon after Chadwick came close with a header, and then before the break King was substituted to be replaced by Callum Davies.

Tomlin was also taken off before the break to be replaced by debutant Jordan Obita.

H/T : 0-1

Argyle came firing out of the blocks in the second half and nearly equalized within 60 seconds of the restart.

Alex MacDonald swung in a right foot cross after outpacing Charlie Lee down the wing, and with no one able to get a touch it whistled past the post and out for a goal kick.

In the 55th minute the Gills thought they had extended their lead.

Jo Kuffour attempted an audacious lob from just outside the 18-yard box, and with Cole once more off his line the ball flew over him but hit the underside of the bar and eventually claimed by the keeper.

It nearly proved costly as at the other end Robbie Williams struck a low shot with his right foot which went across Gazzaniga in the Gills goal, and as he looked over his shoulder the ball went past his left post and out of play.

Robbie Williams and Darren Purse were next to trouble the Gills goal - the left-back's free kick parried out by the keeper, and the centre halve could only find the side netting with his effort.

Minutes later and the hosts had two golden opportunities to draw level.

First Luke Young powered a right foot shot just wide of the post, and then MacDonald thundered a shot against the crossbar with Gazzaniga beaten.

Ashley Miller came on with just over 15 minutes to go. This meant - with Jo Kuffour having departed and Martin sent off - the average age of the Gills team was 22.

Despite that the side continued to dig in and were doing their best to preserve their slender one-goal lead.

Simon Walton nearly marked his appearance from the bench with a goal.

He was one-on-one inside the box, and just as he was about to smash home the leg of Charlie Lee got to the ball first and got it away with an equalizer looking likely.

With just a few minutes left on the clock two Gills substitutes nearly combined to extend the lead.

Ashley Miller held the ball up brilliantly on the halfway line, and with the outside of his boot released Obita down the left wing.

He advanced through on goal but his shot was a good height for Cole and he simply beat it away with both hands.

At the other end MacDonald played an excellent ball across the box which was begging to be hit, but to the relief of the Gills defence it bypassed everybody and out for a corner.

The last few minutes were tense for the 459 Gills fans that had made the trip, but the referee did finally blow his whistle for full time to give the visitors a much needed three points.

F/T: 0-1

Plymouth: Cole, Young, Williams, Purse, Hourihane, Wotton (Walton 73), Bignot (Berry 45), Blanchard, MacDonald, Chadwick, Hemmings (Tsoumou 61)

Unused subs: Larrieu, Daley.

Gills: Gazzaniga, C Lee, Richards, King (Davies 45), Martin, Whelpdale, Montrose, O Lee, Jackman, Kuffour (Miller 73), Tomlin (Obita 45)

Unused subs: Hawkes, Spiller.

Goals: Martin (23)

Bookings: Martin (14 and 31) Richards (49), Montrose (61) Berry (81) Chadwick (81)

Referee: Mr M Brown

Attendance: 6,382 (459 Gills)


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