Gillingham go third in Sky Bet League One with victory over ChesterfieldRory Donnelly scored his fifth goal in three games to help Gillingham clinch a 3-1 win over Chesterfield at the Proact Stadium on Saturday.
John Egan opened the scoring midway through the first half only for Rai Simons to equalise nine minutes later.
Donnelly put the Gills back in front shortly after the break with Charlton loanee Harry Lennon guaranteeing the points with a quarter of the match to play.
Manager Justin Edinburgh made four changes to the side that beat Luton Town in the JPT with Egan, Donnelly, Josh Wright and Bradley Dack all returning to the team in place of Aaron Morris, Emmanuel Osadebe, Cody McDonald and Jordan Houghton.
Jermaine McGlashan therefore kept his place along with Lennon as the Gills began with a 3-5-2 formation.
Chesterfield asked more of the questions in the opening 10 minutes with Sam Morsy firing over the bar from 20 yards and Dan Jones’ inviting cross well cleared by Brennan Dickenson and Donnelly.
Dack’s free kick was well collected by Tommy Lee but the keeper was unable to clear a similar set piece on 26 minutes which gave Gills the lead.
Dickenson delivered a ball into the danger zone, Lee didn’t connect cleanly and his punch saw the ball fall into the path of Egan who was completely unmarked and simply had to side foot the ball home.
Following the goal Gillingham looked comfortable but on 35 minutes allowed Chesterfield back into the game. Egan’s short pass was intercepted and Simons made a strong run to the right hand side of the box, Dickenson was unable to cut out a through pass and the forward picked his spot and fired across Nelson and into the bottom corner.
Gills made a change at the break with Aaron Morris replacing Max Ehmer as the visitors changed their shape to a 4-5-1 system.
However the alteration didn’t have an immediate impact and Chesterfield nearly took the lead on 51 minutes.
Jay O’Shea cut in from the right and spotted Morsy in space, the pass was well weighted and Nelson had to scamper across his line to palm the effort wide for a corner.
That save appeared to give Gillingham a boost and three minutes later they went back in front. McGlashan held the ball up on the right and was given plenty of space to pick out a cross, it appeared to lack pace at first but Donnelly got in front of his marker and his effort was impeccably placed with Lee given no chance.
Chesterfield naturally sent more bodies forward in search of a second equaliser; Simons coming close to grabbing a second but his volley from inside the area went wide of the left hand post.
And the hosts were made to pay for not making the most of their possession; Norris holding the ball up brilliantly with his back to goal to play in Hessenthaler.
His ball wide to McGlashan saw the winger launch an effort which came off the post before Wright’s shot was brilliantly tipped wide by Lee.
From the resulting corner Wright was able to retrieve a loose ball and drive towards the far post, his looping cross was headed back into the danger zone by Egan and Lennon was well placed to guide it home.
With time running out Dean Saunders and his team desperately tried to find a way through to set up a tense finale, Ebanks-Blake missing the target twice in quick succession with Norris and Osadebe having efforts blocked in good areas.
Nelson made a magnificent save late on following a Jones free kick, and the Gills held out despite a late surge of pressure to claim victory.
Chesterfield: Lee, O’Neil, Evatt, Morsy, Herd (Dieseruvwe 73), Gardner, Jones, Simons, Raglan, O’Shea, Ebanks-Blake.
Unused subs: Chapman, Talbot, Donohue, Orrell, Humphreys, Hird
Gillingham: Nelson, Egan, Ehmer (A Morris 45), Lennon, McGlashan (Osadebe 81), Dickenson (Garmston 77), Wright, Hessenthaler, Dack, Norris, Donnelly
Unused subs: G Morris, Houghton, Williamson, McDonald
Referee: Mr N Kinseley