Richard Day reports from MEMS Priestfield StadiumA season’s best crowd of 7,268 were at Priestfield this afternoon to see the Gills comprehensively end Burton’s eight-game unbeaten run with another convincing performance.
Myles Weston terrorised the visiting defence and was recorded with a goal while the other three were decent strikes from defenders Tom Flanagan, Matt Fish and Joe Martin which takes the tally of different goalscorers to 13 so far this campaign.
It is of course the second home game running that they have hit four goals and the third occasion this season.
There was just one change to the Gillingham starting XI from the team that enjoyed a four-goal romp against Aldershot last weekend.
The Gills almost got off to a perfect start, Lewis Montrose lobbed the ball forward and Weston, in behind the Albion rearguard, controlled perfectly on the edge of the area but the striker failed to hit the target. There weren’t even 20 seconds on the clock.
Montrose himself went close in the sixth minute, a short free-kick saw Jack Payne have his shot blocked and the loose ball found the tall, Gillingham midfielder. He curled a shot from the edge of the area that Stuart Tomlinson could only stand and admire, however it crashed against the keeper’s left-hand post.
Matt Fish and Jacques Maghoma had a couple of indifferences before the latter, once of Tottenham, broke into the area and was dispossessed but the ball fell invitingly to Calvin Zola who was just off target with a fierce drive.
Adam Barrett was off target with a rising strike and then Tomlinson had to head clear after a quick pump forward by Stuart Nelson almost put Weston in on goal.
The attacking-flow to the game was slightly halted following an injury to Flanagan that required treatment from new physio Gary Hemens. Thankfully he was ok as it was him that broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute.
Chris Whelpdale and Weston combined down the right and the ball was played into Danny Kedwell. He tried to turn but the ball ran loose enabling the on loan MK Dons defender to smack the ball into the roof of the net from close range. It was his first goal for the club.
Both Payne and Whelpdale then went close, but possibly should have done better, with volleys before the former picked up the first yellow card of the afternoon for a foul on Maghoma.
A cracking long-range strike from Weston was turned aside by the diving Tomlinson but a deserved second came in the 40th minute.
Payne found the marauding Fish with a crossfield ball, he fed Charlie Allen who chipped the ball into the area. This was half-cleared back to the Gills right-back who found the top left-hand corner with a curling effort that went in via the keeper and the upright.
At the other end Maghoma saw a dipping free-kick clear the bar before skipper Barrett made a superb goal-line clearance, hooking Matt Paterson’s dinked effort off the line with Nelson beaten.
H/T: 2 – 0
Bradley Dack was introduced at the break (for Payne) and the young midfielder immediately, within 30 seconds, made his mark on both Zola and the game, picking up a booking for his troubles. Moments later he was in the right place though, on the goal-line, to keep a downward header from Brewers skipper Zander Diamond out.
Weston then left Damien McCrory on his backside with a quick turn but his near-post shot was kept out by Tomlinson but with 54 minutes on the clock the visitors, backed by just 58 travelling fans, pulled a goal back.
After a spell of possession Paterson’s scuffed shot found its way to Diamond who found himself in space inside the box and his low strike took a slight deflection off the lunging Flanagan to wrong-foot Nelson.
Just after Whelpdale had a volley blocked, from a Kedwell cross, the Gills restored their two-goal advantage just before the hour.
The quick feet of Weston took him away from Rob Kiernan and after breaking into the area he drilled a low shot across the keeper and inside the far post.
Robbie Findley replaced the excellent Weston in the 62nd minute and a minute later it was 4-1. Fish’s cross from the right was half-cleared to Joe Martin who gave Tomlinson no chance with a stunning 20-yard left-foot volley.
There were calls for a red card for Robbie Weir in the 65th minute as he sent Findley crashing near halfway. He received a yellow from referee Lee Collins as a fellow defender was adjudged close enough but it looked a close call.
A third Gillingham change saw Ben Strevens replacing Kedwell while Albion boss Gary Rowett replaced his two strikers with Justin Richards and Billy Kee coming on.
With the home side comfortable they stepped off the gas a little in the closing stages enabling Burton to create a few openings.
Maghoma’s long-range effort was saved by Nelson, Weir fired wide, Flanagan blocked an O’Connor strike, and the Gills keeper tipped over a rising Kiernan shot.
The Gills best chance late on saw ghost past the defence into the area but Tomlinson made an excellent save with his feet in stoppage time.
This was the tenth victory (in thirteen games) and Martin Allen’s side continue to lead League Two by three points after Port Vale hit back from a goal down to win 4-1 after Jo Kuffour had been sent off.
Gills – Nelson, Fish, Martin, Payne (Dack H/T), Flanagan, Whelpdale, Kedwell (Strevens 66), Allen, Montrose, Weston (Findley 62), Barrett Unused subs: Frampton, Davies, Burton, Forecast
Albion – Tomlinson, Diamond, Weir, Zola (Richards 68), McCrory, Paterson (Kee 68), Maghoma (Taylor 77), O’Connor, Dyer, Bell, Kiernan Unused subs: Atkins, Corbett, Stanton
Attendance: 7,268 (58 Burton supporters)
Referee: Lee Collins
Assistant referee’s: Neil Hair & Dave Bushell
Fourth Official: Jake Hillier