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20 May 2013



20 May 2013

A look back at the promotion winning campaign

Richard Day reviews the record-breaking 2012-13 League Two title winning campaign, we have reached September…
By the time Chesterfield arrived in Kent on the opening day of the month, just three games into the season, they had amazingly already dispensed with the services of manager John Sheridan.

As often happens the managerless Spireites played with a certain freedom and went ahead through Craig Westcarr in the 13th minute. Just eight minutes later Danny Kedwell equalised with a far-post header and that’s how the scoring ended.

The point proved enough to take Gillingham to the top of the table for the first time.

On September 4 a see-saw battle against League One Crawley Town at the Broadfield Stadium saw the Gills edged out of the Johnstone Paints Trophy where despite goals from Bradley Dack, his first at senior level, and Lewis Montrose, the home side won 3-2.

Another four days on and two goals in a minute from Jack Payne and Kedwell put the Gills well on the road to victory with just 11 minutes on the clock at bottom club Barnet the following week.

Jack Saville gave the Bees some hope with a 23rd minute header but Deon Burton netted with a close-range back-header to bring the three point’s home.

Bristol Rovers were the next visitors here on the 15th where the game, in which the impressive David Wright, on loan from Crystal Palace debuted, was all but over by half-time with the Gills holding a 3-0 lead.

Two goals from Kedwell, the first a penalty, were added to by a neat diving header from Charlie Lee. The fourth and final goal didn’t arrive until eight minutes from time when Chris Whelpdale dived to head in a Myles Weston cross.

Three days later the Gills were at home once again with Southend United the opponents.

The most noteworthy incidents all came in the 56 minutes of an extended first-half after Shrimpers keeper Paul Smith was stretchered off.

Just a minute or so remained when Kedwell smacked home the only goal from the penalty spot after substitute Dack was fouled before the young midfielder saw red for a challenge on Mark Phillips.

After the break it was a great ‘backs to the wall’ performance as the home side were forced to defend deeply for much of the second period with Stuart Nelson pulling off a number of saves.

After the win against the Essex side Martin Allen said "What a night it was. It was backs to the wall but we defended rigidly. All of them worked hard.

"They're fit. When they're fit they make better decisions. We had a young team out there. It was a great win and a great atmosphere. “
Next up for the league leaders was a top of the table clash at second-placed Port Vale on the 22nd which ended in a superb 2-0 victory.

U.S.A international Robbie Findley, on loan from Nottingham Forest, crossed for Burton to head home the first after 11 minutes and then Joe Martin set up Whelpdale, who smashed a rising shot past Chris Neal, to double the lead fourteen minutes later.

Micky Adams side were stunned and despite throwing caution to the wind they couldn’t find a way past an inspired Nelson.
On September 29 the club suffered their first defeat of the season when a below-par performance saw a workmanlike Rochdale overcome the 10-man Gills at Priestfield.

Gillingham were already trailing to an Andrew Tutte goal when Danny Jackman was sent-off on the half hour.

Then Bobby Grant doubled the visitors lead just before the hour as the Gills were caught out in their search for an equaliser.

A lifeline came when Whelpdale was fouled in the box with 73 minutes gone, Kedwell confidently stroked the ball home, but unfortunately that was as close as it was going to get as John Coleman’s team held on.

League form - DWWWWL          League position at the end of the month – Top

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