A look back at the promotion winning campaignRichard Day reviews the record-breaking 2012-13 League Two title winning campaign, we move into the New Year and January…
The New Year couldn’t have started any better as the Gills recorded two wins on their travels at first Southend and then Bristol Rovers – completing their first ‘doubles’ at the same time.
On New Year’s Day at Roots Hall it was Chris Whelpdale’s third-minute goal, he shot home following a decent Joe Martin free-kick, that earned the points although it took a stubborn rear-guard effort, aided by debutant Leon Legge who had joined on loan from Brentford, to keep the Essex side at bay.
The points moved Martin Allen’s side back ahead of Port Vale after the Valiants had moved top after the Gills fixture with Northampton (December 29) was called off and the Gillingham manager said "The team were back to their best and it certainly helps when you can call on a centre-back that we've just signed [Leon Legge]. He was immense, but everybody was fantastic. It's a great day for our travelling supporters. “
Four days on and Whelpdale repeated his trick of netting in the third minute to set up the victory over the Pirates at the Memorial Stadium – a game which saw Steven Gregory debut as a second-half substitute.
This time the winger found the top corner with a fierce, rising angled strike across keeper Steve Mildenhall and into the top corner.
That lead was doubled just before the break when a long ball from Stuart Nelson was helped on by Whelpdale to Deon Burton who instantly knocked it over his marker as he turned before blasting home.
On January 12 the return with Port Vale took place and the visitors leapfrogged the Gills into top spot following a 2-1 win in a game that was a credit to League Two.
Tom Pope headed Vale in front after just four minutes and then a close range effort from Lee Hughes deflected in off the unfortunate Adam Barrett to make it 2-0 with 20 minutes on the clock.
Just a minute later though the Gills were back in it as Danny Kedwell rifled a terrific shot past Chris Neal from the edge of the area.
As the home side went all out for a deserved equaliser, Adam Birchall saw an effort cleared off the line and Neal, who knew little about it, did brilliantly to keep out a thunderous header from Charlie Lee.
After seeing the trip to Rochdale fall foul of the weather, York City were the Gills next opponents on January 26 and it was the visitors that took a 17th minute lead when Patrick McLaughlin’s corner seemed to be deflected past Nelson at his near post.
That was how it remained until five minutes from time when Cody McDonald marked his return on loan from Coventry City by heading home the equaliser from a wicked Myles Weston cross.
Even though Northampton boss Aidy Boothroyd had watched the York game he couldn’t prevent his side, who were third, slipping to a two-goal defeat on a windy night at Priestfield – the win enough to move the Gills back to the top of the table.
In just the fourth minute a long ball forward from Matt Fish deceived Cobblers Lee Nicholls leaving McDonald a simple tap-in.
The visitors failed to take their chances as they went in search of an equaliser and Weston sealed the win six minutes from time when he latched onto a Nelson goal-kick, evaded two defenders and then drilled a shot across the keeper and in off the far post – a majority of the crowd went home ecstatic.
League form - WWLDW League position at the end of the month – Top
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