Two early second half strikes deprive Gills after encouraging display
Port Vale came from behind to seal a 2-1 win against the Gills at Vale Park after a couple of early second half goals.
Chris Robertson and Tom Pope struck after the break with Danny Kedwell having put the visitors ahead after 13 minutes, and despite having chances to level late on, Peter Taylor’s side were unable to find a way back.
However he will be encouraged with the performance, especially in the first half when Gills looked threatening on the counter attack and, on another day, could have been leading by a greater margin at half time.
Taylor made one change to the side that beat Notts County on Tuesday night, with Amine Linganzi replacing Steven Gregory in the holding midfield role.
Myles Weston retained his place in the team on the left wing, with Chris Whelpdale on the right flank to support Danny Kedwell.
The game didn’t take long to spring in to life with Linganzi displaying early attacking intent by showing trickery on the edge of the box before having a left foot shot blocked by Anthony Griffith.
A cross from the right was then headed just wide by Ben Williamson as both sides looked to gain the early advantage.
The lively striker forced the first save of the match from Stuart Nelson on six minutes. He ran forward with the ball and found a yard of space before launching a shot from range which was palmed wide by the Gills stopper.
A Weston shot moments later was followed up by two good crosses, one from Whelpdale and the other from Michael Harriman which, although delivered in to the danger zone, no visiting shirt was on hand to convert.
Williamson did find the net a few moments after, but after tangling with Adam Barrett just outside the six yard box, the assistant referee had waved his flag to indicate a foul which ruled out the resulting goal.
That would be a costly offence as on 13 minutes the Gills took the lead. Linganzi found some space on the left hand side and shrugged off a challenge before producing a great cross towards the back post.
Kedwell was running in, got the better of two Vale defenders and beat Chris Neal from close range to net his third goal in as many games.
The cross was inch perfect for the striker and he made no mistake with his first opportunity of the game.
The scores could have been level seconds after the re-start as Louis Dodds found Williamson sprinting through the centre. He beat Nelson to the ball but his shot was off target, going just wide of the post.
The high tempo set at the start of the game was maintained throughout the first half – both sides getting forward and looking as threatening as each other on the counter attack.
On 23 minutes Vale had another chance to draw level. Lines took a corner on the left hand side, and despite Leon Legge heading away twice in quick succession, the ball fell to Jordan Hugill who hit a shot through a series of players before Nelson gathered.
Whelpdale then had a spectacular effort go over the bar before seeing another effort go straight in to the hands of Neal.
The hosts broke down the other end and forced another save from the impressive Nelson on 33 minutes. Carl Dickinson provided a looping cross; the ball found fell in to the path of Loft who forced the keeper to dive to his left to parry away with the majority of the crowd ready to celebrate the equalizer.
Gills finished the half the better of the two teams though and thoroughly deserved their applause from the visiting faithful as the whistle blew.
Within the first 60 seconds Vale had drawn level. A corner from Lines, which came as the result of a mix up at the back involving Legge and Nelson, was finished brilliantly by Chris Robertson.
Dickinson had won the initial flick on, and the centre-back was on hand to guide the ball home to the frustration of the back four who will feel they could have done more to prevent the set piece.
This gave Micky Adams’ side the momentum to push on, and they enjoyed the majority of possession following the equalizer with Williamson trying to catch Nelson off guard with a long range effort which cleared the bar.
On 55 minutes, which also saw the referee bundled to the ground by Griffith, Weston picked up the ball inside the Gills half and went on a tremendous run.
He evaded a couple of oncoming challenges and decided to go for goal – the shot was off target but it was what the visitors needed to bring Vale’s early charge to a halt.
However the hosts refused to retreat and Lines forced another save from Nelson before Williamson took advantage of a slip by Barrett to close in on goal, but he went for power rather than accuracy and as a result saw the effort go straight in to the stands.
On 63 minutes substitute Tom Pope did finally give Vale the lead. A deep cross from the back was headed goalwards by the striker, and somehow it beat Nelson at his near post and nestled in to the net.
After dominating the start of the half the hosts were rewarded for their efforts, and a third was only denied by the right hand of Nelson soon after when a toe poke very nearly made its way in.
Peter Taylor responded by bringing on attacking duo Cody McDonald and Antonio German in place of Charlie Lee and Danny Kedwell.
Although this seemed to instigate a quieter period, the hosts were still very much on top and intent on scoring a third to kill the game off.
With nine minutes to go the Gills made their final sub with Bradley Dack replacing Linganzi, and within seconds they should have been level.
A mis-placed pass gave Whelpdale the opportunity to burst through the middle, he chose to pass to German who had found yards of space on his right hand side, and despite having a clear sight at goal he failed to hit the target and a golden chance went begging.
McDonald attempted an audacious over-head kick moments later before an effort by Joe Martin was comfortably caught by Neal. Barrett then saw his header go wide after Weston’s corner.
A late surge by the visitors, including a Leon Legge effort which was blocked at close range, wasn’t enough and Vale held on to secure the points.
Port Vale: Neal, Yates, Robertson, Dickinson, Chilvers, Loft, Dodds, Lines, Williamson, Griffith, Hugill (Pope 46).
Unusued subs: Johnson, Myrie-Williams, Pope, Duffy, Birchall, Hughes
Gills: Nelson, Harriman, Barrett, Legge, Martin, Linganzi (Dack 82), Hollands, Lee (McDonald 70), Whelpdale, Weston, Kedwell (German 70)
Unused subs: Howard, Davies, Gregory, Akinfenwa
Referee: Mr D Bond
Yellow Cards: None
Goals: Kedwell (13), Robertson (47) Pope (63)
Attendance: 5,690 (182 Gills)