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21:50 20th March 2012

Whelps Crawley 640


Gillingham have slipped to ninth in npower League Two after losing 1-0 to Crawley Town at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Dannie Bulman's strike early in the second half proved enough to claim all three points, and despite persistent pressure from the Gills in the final minutes they were unable to draw level.

A Danny Kedwell header in the dying seconds which was cleared off the line was the closest the home side came to an equalizer.

Andy Hessenthaler named an unchanged team for the game - Dennis Oli keeping his place in attack alongside Kedwell, as Jo Kuffour watched from the bench.

Joe Martin returned to the squad following his three game ban at the expense of Jack Evans who missed out altogether.

Crawley made two changes to their side - Scott Davies and Josh Simpson coming in for Lloyd James and Billy Clarke.

Both sides enjoyed decent possession in the opening stages - Kyle McFadzean having the first half chance with a header, before Jordan Obita stung the fingertips of Michael Kuipers from a 30-yard free-kick.

The resulting corner was met by Simon King, but with a player in front of him he was unable to get the contact he wanted and saw his effort go wide. Davies had a similar chance at the other end but, like King, was off target.

The first 20 minutes passed without serious incident as both sets of midfield players did their utmost to boss the game.

Oli was making his presence known in the Crawley defence - the centre forward chasing down every loose ball and exerting pressure whenever possible.

Sergio Torres had a decent chance with a volley on 23 minutes which went well wide before the Gills somehow scrambled away an almost certain goal on the half hour mark.

Paulo Gazzaniga managed to get his fingertips to a looping effort - Gary Alexander was on hand to convert but Connor Essam put in a fantastic tackle to deny the visitors the opening goal.

The keeper was quick on his feet to help the defence clear their lines as the Crawley fans wondered how they hadn't taken the lead.

King had a great chance to give the Gills the advantage against the run of play just moments later - an Olly Lee free-kick made its way back out to the defender, and with Kuipers off his line he attempted to take advantage but struck wide by just a matter of inches.

Essam received a blood injury in the process and was off the field for a couple of minutes, much to the annoyance of Hessenthaler as the centre-back was ready to continue.

He was down again just seconds after resuming - Alexander had used his elbow to gain leverage and connected with Essam in the process.

The referee produced a yellow card for his trouble when the Gills faithful were appealing for something stronger.

The rest of the half, although lively, failed to produce a goal and the sides were level at the break.

H/T: 0-0

Five minutes into the second half and Crawley were ahead. Essam slipped which allowed Alexander some time to play in Bulman on the left hand side - he took a touch and lashed a low shot beyond Gazzaniga to give the Reds the lead.

Alexander could have doubled the advantage five minutes later. He was played in on the right hand side of the penalty area, and from a tight angle managed to get away a shot which crashed into the side netting.

Chris Whelpdale nearly levelled things up on 58 minutes. From 20 yards out he let fly with a right foot effort - it took a deflection en route to goal which resulted in a two consecutive corner kicks.

From the second it was Essam who got there first, he met it well but unfortunately for him it went over the bar and out for a goal kick.

Hope Akpan thought he had made it 2-0 on 66 minutes. Alexander got the better of Essam and crossed into the box.

Akpan rose highest to head home and reeled away to celebrate, however it was short lived as the linesman had already flagged for offside.

Four minutes later and Kedwell made use of a defensive mix up. The ball came to the striker on the left hand side and opted to shoot on the half volley - he struck it well but it was straight down the throat of Kuipers who saved comfortably.

By this time Kuffour and Ashley Miller had joined the action with Lee and Oli having made way - the Gills at this stage were throwing everything they could at the visiting defence but were unable to find a way past Kuipers.

Whelpdale tried again in the 79th minute - he made some space for himself outside the box but struck along the floor which gave the keeper time to get down and collect without any problems.

At the other end Akpan struck over the bar as Crawley looked to put the result beyond doubt.

With just seconds on the clock the Gills rallied and won five corners in a row. The first two were headed wide - the third was cleared off the line by Torres as Kedwell searched for the top corner.

The fourth was hacked safe and the fifth brought to an end the spell of pressure as Crawley desperately looked to keep their clean sheet.

Gazzaniga was even called forward for a sixth corner, but Jackman's delivery was poor, and this signalled the end of a game which the Gills may look back on at the end of the season and wished they achieved more.

F/T: 0-1

Gills: Gazzaniga, Fish, King, Essam, Jackman, Whelpdale, O Lee (Kuffour 55), J Payne, Obita (Martin 79), Kedwell, Oli (Miller 71).

Unused subs: Hawkes, Frampton.

Crawley: Kuipers, S Davies, Howell, Mills, McFadzean, Torres, Alexander, Simpson, Bulman, Akpan, L Clarke.

Unused subs: C Davis, B Clarke, Watt, Batt, Cummings.

Referee: Mr M Heywood

Attendance: 5,204 (322 Crawley)

Bookings: Alexander (37), Kuipers (59), Obita (75)

Goals: Bulman (50)


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