Goals from Bradley Dack and Cody McDonald give the Gills a well-earned victory against Crewe AlexandraFirst half goals from Bradley Dack and Cody McDonald helped continue Gillingham's unbeaten home record this season at the expense of Crewe Alexandra.
Dack curled home an early goal of the season contender on 18 minutes, and although McDonald's second strike of this campaign shortly before half time was not as pretty, it made life a lot easier for the Gills after the break.
Three changes were made to the side from Tuesday's hard-fought Capital One cup tie against Newcastle, as Joe Martin returned from a thigh injury and Gavin Hoyte, Jermaine McGlashan and Aaron Morris earned recalls.
And it was McGlashan who terrorised the Alexandra defence in the opening period. McDonald shot wide from his cross on 14 minutes following neat play between Morris, Martin and Dack, and the pacey winger's trickery put Matt Tootle on the floor at one point.
The game's first goal also came out of a McGlashan cross. The visitors failed to clear his blazed delivery on 18 minutes, and Dack cut inside onto his left foot and found the top corner with a brilliant strike.
Top scorer Danny Kedwell's looping header caused problems for Alexandra goalkeeper Ben Garratt on 23 minutes, and defender George Ray almost deflected Dack's volley into his own net on the stroke of half time.
But the Gills entered the break with a two-goal advantage, as McDonald scored in stoppage time. Jake Hessenthaler put the striker through on goal, and although Garratt blocked his powerful shot, the ball looped into the net.
Crewe had won on their last four visits to the MEMS Priestfield Stadium, scoring 13 goals in those games, but it was the Gills who looked like finding the net again at the start of the second half.
Kedwell forced Garratt into a save following Dack's cutting through ball, and John Egan – who was imperious at the heart of the Gills defence – headed over from a Hessenthaler corner shortly before the hour mark.
Billy Waters's scuffed effort in the 66th minute was Crewe's first, and only one of four shots on target in the game.
On-loan Manchester City midfielder Greg Leigh and striker Marcus Haber forced Stephen Bywater into easy saves with time almost up, as the Gills recorded their second clean sheet of the season.
The Gills came close to adding a third twice in the final five minutes. Substitute Brennan Dickenson shot into the side netting having been brilliantly played through by Luke Norris, and McGlashan headed onto the post from Dickenson's deep cross.
Gills: Bywater, Hoyte, Egan, Hause, Martin, McGlashan (Pritchard 90), Hessenthaler, A Morris, Dack, Kedwell (Norris 84), McDonald (Dickenson 77).
Unused subs: G Morris, Davies, McKain, German.
Crewe Alexandra: Garratt, Tootle, Ray, Dugdale, Guthrie, Atkinson (Leigh 63), Nolan, Turton (Grant 45), Inman, Waters (Saunders 71), Haber.
Unused subs: Shearer, Molyneux, Leigh, Cooper, Saunders, Oliver.
Referee: Andrew Madley