Bradley Dack and Jermaine McGlashan on target as the Gills record second win over Crawley this seasonGillingham’s chances of reaching the playoffs in Sky Bet League One remain alive after recording a 2-1 win over Crawley Town on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors dominated first half proceedings and deservedly took the lead on 40 minutes when Bradley Dack drilled home a fantastic effort from inside the penalty area.
Izale McLeod reduced the arrears midway through the second half with an excellent strike which gave Glenn Morris no chance, only for Jermaine McGlashan to seal the points with nine minutes to play with a superb diving header.
Manager Justin Edinburgh named two changes to the team that drew 2-2 with Colchester. John Marquis returned to the team in place of Cody McDonald while McGlashan replaced Jake Hessenthaler who was ill prior to the match.
Josh Pritchard and Antonio German returning to the squad after featuring in Tuesday’s 2-2 development game against Bournemouth.
Crawley fielded Brian Jensen in goal – the 39-year-old was chosen ahead of Lewis Price who was protected after suffering a bout of concussion.
Gillingham began in a 4-2-3-1 shape with McGlashan, Dack and Marquis supporting Norris. Doug Loft and Aaron Morris were the holding midfield players and it was the visitors who started brighter.
Norris in particular giving the Crawley defence a hard time in the opening few minutes but it was two pass backs that nearly provided both sides with chances.
Jensen just about did enough to clear his lines as Marquis looked to take advantage, with Morris doing even better at the other end to prevent Gavin Tomlin with an opportunity as name sake Aaron struggled for forward options.
The first meaningful effort on goal came on 16 minutes when a cross from McGlashan was too long for Marquis to trouble Jensen; Dack eventually retrieved it and launched an effort over the bar.
Seconds later and Marquis found some space on the left hand side; he burst into the area and produced a low effort which was more than comfortable for the Crawley goalkeeper.
Crawley survived a persistent spell of pressure from Gills – a succession of crosses dealt with by the home defence before Jensen eventually gathered a delivery from skipper Doug Loft.
The quality of crossing was Gills undoing and their final ball failed to create anything clear cut.
However on 40 minutes, with Gills completely dominant, they finally took the lead. The ball was worked towards the right, Norris played in Egan whose pass looked short for Dack but the midfielder latched onto it and burst into the box.
Jensen narrowed the gap but Dack did well to skip over a challenge and find the far corner and put the visitors in front with his eighth goal of the season.
As the half drew to a close Anthony Wordsworth nearly produced a special goal when his free kick from 30 yards beat Morris, however it nestled on top of the net with the Gills fans breathing a sigh of relief.
Gillingham started as the first half had finished and Norris very nearly produced a second goal on 55 minutes.
He used his pace and power to win an unlikely 50/50, he drove into the box and stepped inside his man before forcing a near post save from Jensen.
The resulting corner was headed away before Aaron Morris drilled an effort over the bar.
Crawley sensed a chance to pin Gillingham back and progressively did so, getting their reward on 65 minutes courtesy of McLeod.
A short cross from the right found the forward with little space to work with, however he took a touch, flicked the ball to the side of John Egan and in the blink of an eye drilled a right footed effort which found its way past Glenn Morris and into the corner.
McDonald was introduced soon after in place of Norris and within a few minutes the Gills should have been ahead – first a Loft free kick was tipped over by Jensen before the resulting corner found Marquis in space whose header was excellently denied by the former Burnley keeper.
On 77 minutes it was Marquis again who was posing a threat – a long clearance down the left wing gave Darren Ward a tough chase, the forward outpaced him but chose to shoot from a tight angle and Jensen watched the ball go well wide.
A minute later and Ehmer struck the frame of the post. Aaron Morris played a great ball through to McGlashan, he got to the byline and picked out the centre back whose effort was well struck but didn’t beat the keeper from close range.
However Gillingham finally got themselves back in front with nine minutes to play. A short pass to Dack on the left side of penalty area gave him time and space; he looked up and presented a cross to the back post which was met by McGlashan’s diving header.
Although unmarked Jensen was sprinting across his line and the winger did well to find the net.
Crawley had one final attempt on goal which nearly saw them leave with a point. Oyebanjo, on for Lewis Young at the break, found half a yard of space and looked to find the near corner.
Morris looked to have it covered but luckily for the traveling faithful it struck the outside of the post and soon after the full time whistle sounded.
Crawley: Jensen, Dickson (Cofie 83), Bradley, Young (Oyebanjo 46), Fowler, Ward, Wordsworth, Wood, Elliott (Edwards 46), McLeod, Tomlin.
Unused subs: Price, Smith, Bawling, Pogba
Gillingham: G Morris, Hoyte, Egan, Ehmer, Bell, A Morris, Loft, Dack, McGlashan, Norris (McDonald 68), Marquis (Dickenson 89).
Unused subs: Nelson, Legge, Galbraith, Pritchard, German
Attendance: 3570 (1111 Gills)
Referee: Mr T Kettle