2012-13 REVIEW - APRIL

A look back at the promotion winning campaign

We have reached the final run-in as Richard Day reviews April in the record-breaking 2012-13 League Two title winning campaign…

Easter Monday saw Steve Evans bring his Rotherham United team to town and once again ex-Miller Deon Burton proved to be the thorn in their side with the match-winner.

He stabbed home the only goal from close range in the 22nd minute after Danny Kedwell flicked on a Chris Whelpdale long throw.

Whelpdale and Kedwell both struck the woodwork in a game that the Gills dominated for long periods although, as the visitors threw everything forward, Stuart Nelson brilliantly clawed out a Michael O’Connor volley and Joe Martin was forced to make a goal-line clearance.

Martin Allen was a happy man after seeing his side get closer to automatic promotion, he said "We were dominant from start to finish. In the last 15 minutes they had four centre-forwards, it was testing, they gambled, which they've got every right to do, but we saw it out and what a performance from our team.

Promotion back to League One after a three-year hiatus was finally clinched amongst joyous scenes at MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday April 6.

Local lad Kedwell netted the only goal of the game for his boyhood heroes against visiting Torquay United.

In a game that saw both sides hit the woodwork it was the clubs leading scorer who struck his 15th goal of the season with a right-foot volley from Steven Gregory’s 48th minute diagonal ball, that sparked jubilation around most parts of the ground.
A week later Gillingham slipped to just a second away defeat on their travels at promotion-chasing Cheltenham Town as Martin Allen returned to one of his former clubs.

On a wet and windy afternoon at the Abbey Business Stadium, the Gills, backed by a phenomenal 1,449 travelling supporters, battled hard but were ultimately beaten by a 67th minute header from central defender Michael Hector.

Following a tough 90 minutes on a ground where the Robins had lost just twice at home this season, Martin Allen said: “I thought the lads had a real go, it’s a difficult place to come and play especially after getting promotion last week.

“Their record here is very, very good against the best teams and I thought they played really well to be honest. Our players stood up to it, battled against it.”

April 20 saw unrivalled celebrations around MEMS Priestfield Stadium as a point against visitors AFC Wimbledon was enough for the Gills to clinch the League Two trophy – the first title for nearly 50 years but the first ever on home soil.

Of course Gillingham being Gillingham, they couldn’t do things the easy way and let a two-goal lead slip and were left to hang on in the nervy closing stages.

Burton smacked the Gills in front after 12 minutes and Kedwell added the second 11 minutes later, heading home a great Whelpdale cross.

The Dons struck back in the second half though, Jack Midson pulled on back from close range in the 65th minute, Jon Meades then tucked away the equaliser with eight minutes remaining and there was still time for Gary Alexander to see a shot thump against the post.

Manager Martin Allen was unashamedly a very happy man after seeing skipper Adam Barrett lift the League Two trophy on the pitch following the game.

He said "Amazing, 10 months of hard work. They've just kept going, getting points, breaking records, the first title Gillingham have won for 50 years and to be the manager on this special day is a magnificent feeling.”

The season ended however with a 3-2 defeat at Burton Albion in a game which Martin Allen blooded a number of young players.

Myles Weston put the Gills ahead with a ninth minute penalty but the Brewers, themselves in the play-offs, then took a 3-1 lead before young striker Nathan Nyafli pulled one back with his first touch just two minutes after replacing Kane Haysman.

League form - WWLDL          League position at the end of the month – CHAMPIONS

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