Gillingham mount brilliant comeback with just 10 men to defeat Crawley Town and advance to the JPT Area Semi-Finals

Gillingham battled their way into the Southern Area Semi Finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with a 2-1 win over Crawley Town at Broadfield Stadium on Tuesday evening, despite playing much of the second half with just 10 men.

Joe Martin saw red on the hour mark with the visitors having gone a goal behind courtesy of Izale McLeod’s 21st minute penalty, but Gills fought back valiantly and won the game thanks to Jermaine McGlashan and Doug Loft’s first goals for the club.

McGlashan, on at half time, found the corner of the net with an accurate low effort before the Captain grabbed a winner on 87 minutes when his floated cross made its way past Jamie Ashdown at the back post.

Peter Taylor made four changes to the team that lost to Bristol City in the FA Cup – Matt Fish, Brennan Dickenson, Antonio German and Luke Norris all coming in for Gavin Hoyte, Kortney Hause, Danny Kedwell and Cody McDonald.

Bradley Dack was named on the bench alongside Danny Kedwell with Cody McDonald not named in the 18 with Taylor opting to rest him.

Among the starters for Crawley was Gavin Tomlin who spent time with the Gills on loan from Dagenham & Redbridge during the 2011-12 season.

Gillingham began the game well and bossed possession in the opening few minutes, however neither goalkeeper was really troubled as the wet conditions made a passing game increasingly tricky.

It took 15 minutes for either side to create a chance of any note – it fell to the hosts when Tomlin played a short pass to the left hand side for McLeod.

The striker attempted to bend a shot around Fish and into the far corner but his strike was off target.

Shortly after at the other end a Jake Hessenthaler corner was delivered towards the near post and John Egan was unlucky not to do better with a decent headed effort.

On 20 minutes Crawley were given the chance to open the scoring via the penalty spot. Gwion Edwards skipped through a small gap into the area, Hessenthaler stuck out a foot and the referee didn’t hesitate in awarding the spot kick.

McLeod stepped up and confidently wrong footed Nelson with the ball nestling in the bottom right hand corner.

The visitors however continued to play in the same way and forced a couple of corner kicks before German had the Gills best opening of the game to date.

A short pass from Michael Doughty was aimed just on the edge of the area, German held the ball up before shifting his weight to the left hand side and firing a low shot which went narrowly wide of Jamie Ashdown’s left hand post.

McLeod forced a fine save from Nelson on 39 minutes with the keeper palming the ball clear, before Norris flashed a powerful left foot shot across the face of goal shortly before the interval.

H/T: 1-0

Peter Taylor made two changes at the break with Bradley Dack and Jermaine McGlashan replacing Matt Fish and Luke Norris respectively.

An early free kick from Doughty cleared the bar before the match was turned on its head shortly after the hour mark.

Joe Martin and McLeod were involved in an off the ball incident, the striker reacted to an alleged raising of the arm and the referee consulted his assistant before deciding to brandish a straight red card.

The visiting players were stunned with the decision as McLeod received just a yellow for his part, but just a couple of minutes after his departure the Gills were level.

McGlashan regained possession in a decent area on the right hand side; he looked up and placed a brilliant shot into the bottom corner with Ashdown given no chance at full stretch.

The visitors were deservedly level and despite the numerical disadvantage looked the most likely to net a winner, and they did exactly that on 87 minutes – skipper Doug Loft producing a brilliant left foot cross on the right wing, he curled it towards the far post and the ball skidded off the surface which generated enough pace to beat Ashdown.

The accuracy was pin point from the Captain and the defence stood firm in the closing stages to ensure a deserved victory for Peter Taylor’s side.

F/T: 1-2

Crawley: Ashdown, Oyebanjo (Banya 83), Dickson (Sadler 53), Bradley, Edwards, Smith, McLeod, Walsh, Keane, Bawling, Tomlin (Young 61).
Unused subs: Jensen, Henderson

Gills: Nelson, Fish (Dack HT), Egan, Legge, Martin, Loft, Hessenthaler, Doughty, Dickenson, Norris (McGlashan HT), German (Kedwell 74).
Unused subs: G Morris, Hoyte

Attendance: 1305 (310 Gillingham)

Referee: Mr D Sheldrake