Blackpool score three without reply at Priestfield as Gills suffer second successive home defeat.
The Gills slipped to their heaviest home defeat of the season, shipping three goals against Blackpool at MEMS Priestfield Stadium as they still hunt for the points that will ensure League One football stays in Kent next season.
Two goals in four minutes from Kyle Vassell and Nathan Delfouneso put the visitors in command of the game at the break, and a late goal from Kelvin Mellor finished the Gills off in the second half as they threw men forward to try and get back in to the contest.
Gillingham Manager Steve Lovell shuffled his pack after the disappointing defeat against Rotherham. Tom Hadler made his competitive debut for the Gills between the sticks while Lee Martin returned from his four-game suspension after his dismissal against Southend to captain the side.
Ben Nugent replaced Gabriel Zakuani who missed out following the knock he picked up early on against the Millers and Tom Eaves started up front for the first time since the Southend game.
In glorious sunshine, the Tangerines started the stronger and were nearly ahead after just two minutes as a brilliant cross came in from Ryan on the right and Vassell dived to meet it but his header thundered off the crossbar.
Blackpool were looking dangerous and had a second chance to score before ten minutes when a corner was met by Delfouneso but his header was wide of the target.
After resisting that early spell of pressure, the Gills settled and began to grow into the game with a promising move breaking down after neat interplay between the midfield as they just overplayed it on the edge of the box.
The visitors were still threatening, particularly in the air through their strikers Delfouneso and Vassell. A series of corners were just about defended by Gillingham with Max Ehmer forced to make a good block at the near post as one cross bounced around the area.
A goal was coming for Blackpool and duly arrived just before the half hour. A free-kick from 30 yards was tapped to Ryan and his piledriver took a deflection on its way through the wall. Hadler got behind the ball to make the block but the ball fell to Vassell who blasted into the roof of the net.
After a disappointing start to the game, Gillingham looked to go through the gears. Martin won a free-kick near the corner of the box and after his initial delivery was cleared, Luke O’Neill had a shooting chance as the ball bounced across him on the edge of the area but his effort soared over the bar.
The lead was doubled just four minutes after as Vassell did superbly to hold the ball up inside the area before smashing a low ball across the face of goal which Delfouneso reached ahead of the Gillingham defence to applying the finishing touch.
The home side looked rattled but fought to try and get back into the contest. First, Callum Reilly did well to beat his man on the left by-line but his cross was cleared with Eaves looking to pounce before Mark Byrne got across his man on the corner of the box but dragged the shot wide.
The best chance of the first period for the Gills came in added time as a long throw was flicked on by Ehmer before Eaves headed across the goal but Nugent was unable to get a finishing touch with the hosts going in at the break two goals down.
H/T: 0 – 2
Blackpool were given a great chance to extend their lead after just one minute when Nugent was adjudged to have grabbed an attacker in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Spearing stepped up but pulled his shot on to the post with Hadler looking like he just got his fingertips on the ball to push it onto the woodwork.
Solomon-Otabor was then found in acres of space down the left hand side of the box but the Gills defence was back in place quickly and Nugent hacked cleared from under his own goal post.
The first effort of the half from the Gills came after 50 minutes when Josh Parker had space 25 yards out and hit the ball, but his effort swerved over the bar.
The early let off had got the crowd behind the home side who were managing to put more pressure on the Tangerines defence with crosses starting to come into the box.
Gillingham thought they had a good chance to get back into the game after 68 minutes when a cross from the right came in but Eaves was ruled to have fouled the keeper in challenging for the ball as it fell loose in the box.
Despite dominating the ball, the Gills were struggling to break down the Tangerine’s defence with Nash looking for a free-kick on the outside of the box going down under a challenge from Tilt but the referee waved play on.
Substitute Gnanduillet could have wrapped up the victory for Blackpool when he had time to chest the ball down from a lofted ball in, turn and strike towards goal but it was well blocked.
Victory was sealed for the visitors when Gnanduillet got in behind the Gillingham defence and delivered the ball across the goal and Mellor couldn’t miss.
The goal had killed the game as a contest but the Gills continued to press with O’Neill delivering a great cross from the right that just evaded Eaves at the near post.
Gillingham were unable to breach the Blackpool defence and can have few complaints about a defeat that keeps them in the relegation mix with just two games to go.
F/T: 0 – 3
The Gills make their final away trip of the season next weekend as they travel west to the Memorial Ground to take on Bristol Rovers.
Gillingham: Hadler; O’Neill, Ehmer, Nugent, Ogilvie (Nash, 70); Reilly (List, 60), Byrne, Hessenthaler, Martin (Wagstaff, 46); Eaves, Parker
Unused subs: Holy (GK), Lacey, Wilkinson, Nasseri
Blackpool: Lumley; Turton, Tilt, Robertson, Daniel; Ryan, Spearing, Longstaff (McAlister, 84), Solomon-Otabor; Vassell (Gnanduillet, 76), Delfouneso (Mellor, 68)
Unused subs: Mafoumbi (GK), Aimson, Cullen, Menga
Referee: Mr Craig Hicks
Attendance: 5,580 (346)