Gillingham fightback not enough as Chesterfield claim all three points at Priestfield
Jimmy Ryan’s 69th minute volley brought Gillingham’s six game unbeaten run to an end as Chesterfield ran out 3-2 winners at MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors went 2-0 in front thanks to goals from Sam Clucas and an unfortunate own goal from Leon Legge, but Gillingham stormed back and levelled proceedings courtesy of strikes from sub Cody McDonald and John Egan.
However with Peter Taylor’s men seemingly on top the Spireites grabbed a third when Ryan pounced on a loose ball to beat Nelson for a third time.
With the clock ticking down Gillingham created one final opportunity with the last kick of the match. A flick on saw McDonald go through one on one with Tommy Lee, but the keeper produced a magnificent save to ensure Chesterfield claimed maximum points.
Taylor named an unchanged line-up to the team that defeated Doncaster – Luke Norris and Brennan Dickenson started up front with Bradley Dack and Michael Doughty joining skipper Doug Loft in midfield.
Jermaine McGlashan, along with Kedwell and McDonald, was on the bench.
Gills made a good start with a couple of early free kicks missing their target man before Dickenson did brilliantly to clear a corner off the line.
Gary Roberts whipped in a great delivery, Armand Gnanduillet got up highest and thought he had scored but the winger did very well to manoeuvre himself and get it away from danger.
Loft tried his luck from 20 yards with his shot gathered by Lee at the second time of asking before the skipper fell just a yard short of Dickenson’s teasing cross from the left wing.
On 22 minutes, following a couple of half chances for both sides, Chesterfield broke the deadlock when Clucas received the ball on the left hand side, he cut in and tried to find the top corner.
Egan stuck out a leg and the ball clipped off him before finding a way past the helpless Stuart Nelson.
The defender nearly assisted an equalizer moments after the re-start. He drove forward and beat his marker before pulling the ball back for Dack who was lurking inside the penalty area, the midfielder attempted to chip Lee into the far corner but the ball went just wide of the far post.
Gillingham created the next meaningful effort on 38 minutes. A corner by Hessenthaler to the far post was met by Legge whose powerful header just went over the bar.
Chesterfield should have added to their lead early in the second half with two opportunities on goal. The first was well defended by Max Ehmer before the Gills defence did just enough to force the striker into a mistake which allowed Hessenthaler to break clear.
The visitors did increase their lead on 54 minutes when a low cross from the right hand side was drilled across the face of goal, and with Tendayi Darikwa lurking the ball appeared to hit Leon Legge before beating Nelson.
However this sparked a Gills resurgence and on 59 minutes super sub Cody McDonald latched onto a cross from the left by Loft and found the corner with a brilliant header.
And just five minutes later the scores were level, Loft again with the cross from a similar area and Egan was up at the back post to fire a header across Lee and into the bottom corner.
With Gillingham in the ascendency they went in search of a third but Chesterfield hadn’t given up themselves and scored a third on 69 minutes.
Gills failed to clear their lines and the visitors regained possession before a cross eventually saw the ball sit up for Ryan who picked his spot and executed the volley perfectly.
Kedwell was introduced, with McGlashan and McDonald having already come on, and with the hosts needing an equalizer he very nearly helped create it right at the death.
A long ball forward was flicked on and McDonald suddenly found himself with just the keeper to beat, and although his strike was on target, the keeper guessed correctly and made a terrific save to deny the home side a point.
Gills: Nelson, Ehmer, Egan, Legge, Hessenthaler, Martin, Doughty, Loft, Dack (McGlashan 54), Dickenson (McDonald 54), Norris (Kedwell 72).
Unused subs: Bywater, Hoyte, Lennon, Linganzi
Chesterfield: Lee, Darikwa, Hird, Evatt, Ryan, Roberts, Clucas, Humphreys, Raglan, Boco, Gnanduillet.
Unused subs: O’Shea, Wright, Doyle, Ariyibi
Attendance: 6841 (249 Chesterfield)
Referee: Mr C Sarginson