Gills recovered from having Leon Legge sent off to record their second win under Peter Taylor against Carlisle at MEMS Priestfield Stadium
Following last week’s impressive first half display against Port Vale, Peter Taylor opted to keep faith with the same starting XI which saw Chris Whelpdale and Myles Weston partner Danny Kedwell in a three
Just as the teams entered the field, a storm set in, and the heavens opened with driving rain and swirling winds making conditions difficult for both sides. Fortunately after 15 minutes the rain abated but the wind remained a problem throughout the afternoon.
With both teams looking to put points on the board under new management, the opening exchanges were distinctly cagey with no chances created at either end. Indeed the main talking point of the first 15 minutes was an early booking for Carlisle’s Danny Livesey, following a robust challenge on Charlie Lee.
As the half wore on it was the visitors who began to gain the momentum, Liam Noble seeing a free-kick headed clear by Amine Linganzi, Sean O’Hanlon heading wide from a Matt Robson set piece and Lee Miller drilling a low effort from outside the area straight at Stuart Nelson.
Gillingham’s plans were dealt a blow on the half hour when Linganzi was fouled on the halfway line by Cumbrians skipper Paul Thirlwell. After lengthy treatment the midfielder returned to the game but lasted a matter of minutes, Bradley Dack coming on his place on 34 minutes.
Four minutes later, Joe Martin was well placed to block Prince Buaben’s header from a Robson corner, then O’Hanlon headed the return ball wide of Nelson’s left hand upright as the visitors looked for a reward for their pressure.
Two minutes from the break Charlie Lee collected a yellow card after colliding with Chris Chantler in front of the dugout but Carlisle failed to capitalise on the free-kick, O’Hanlon heading over once more from Noble’s delivery.
In time added-on at the end of the half, Gills fashioned their first clear cut opening as Michael Harriman teed up Myles Weston to cut in from the right and shoot but he pulled his effort just to the right of the keeper’s near post.
Carlisle’s response was instant, Noble sending David Amoo clear on the right wing, he centred for Matt Robson to shoot and Michael Harriman denied a certain goal with a diving block tackle to send the teams in all square at half time.
The Blues boss opted to make further changes at half time, Peter Taylor introducing substitutes Cody McDonald and Steven Gregory in place of Myles Weston and Charlie Lee and the Gills immediately began to enjoy more of the play.
On 52 minutes Buaben earned a booking for a trip on Danny Hollands and the home side were unlucky not to capitalise on the resulting free-kick. Stuart Nelson hit a long ball towards the head of Adam Barrett whose effort caught keeper Mark Gillespie wrong-footed but he recovered quickly to make the save.
Sean O’Hanlon followed his team mates into the book four minutes later after pulling back McDonald as the Gills began to take control of the match.
The chance the Gills needed finally arrived on 62 minutes as Danny Livesey brought down Danny Hollands in the box. Leading scorer Danny Kedwell stepped up to the spot and smashed home his eighth of the season to put the home side in front.
Five minutes later Stuart Nelson made an excellent stop, low to his left, to deny Amoo’s angled drive from the left of goal, after the Cumbrians top scorer had raced onto a well placed through pass from Buaben.
On 78 minutes the visitors made their task all the more difficult by going down to ten men. Lee Miller receiving a straight red card after an elbow on Barrett in the Gills penalty area, the incident appeared to be missed by the referee but his Medway Stand linesman flagged for the infringement.
Three minutes after, Leon Legge followed him down the tunnel after a foul on Amoo, wide on the Gordon Road Stand touchline. The Gills centre-half had already been booked in the 26th minute and his dismissal set up a frantic final period.
Goalscorer Kedwell dropped into defence and was perfectly placed on 87 minutes to cut out substitute David Symington’s dangerous cross, as Amoo prepared to shoot. From the restart Gills were denied a strong penalty appeal as Gillespie brought down McDonald but the referee waved away protests from the Gills players.
Carlisle continued to press throughout the four minutes of time added on but the Gills defended resolutely to earn a battling win.
Attendance: 5,697 (260 Carlisle)
Gillingham: Stuart Nelson, Joe Martin, Adam Barrett, Leon Legge, Michael Harriman, Chris Whelpdale, Amine Linganzi (Bradley Dack 34), Danny Hollands, Charlie Lee (Steven Gregory H/T), Danny Kedwell, Myles Weston (Cody McDonald H/T)
Subs not used: Callum Davies, Bayo Akinfenwa, Antonio German, George Howard.
Carlisle United: Mark Gillespie, Matt Robson, Chris Chantler (Lewis Guy 75), Danny Livesey (James Berrett 71), Prince Buaben, David Amoo, Liam Noble (David Symington 57), Lee Miller, Paul Thirlwell, Sean O’Hanlon, Pascal Chimbonda.
Subs not used: Brad Potts, Mark Beck, Greg Fleming, Nathan Eccleston.
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Assistants: Michael George & Adrian Sannerude
4th Official: John O’Brien