A Tom Eaves double inspires Gills to an emphatic first win at Blackpool since 1986.
Gillingham rounded off their League 1 season in style with an impressive 3-0 win at Blackpool on Saturday.
Brandon Hanlan put the Gills ahead before a double from Tom Eaves put the visitors in the driving seat at half-time. Blackpool piled on the pressure in the second half, but Gills held firm to seal a memorable three points.
Gillingham made three changes for the trip to the North-West with Darren Oldaker, Bradley Garmston and Tom Eaves all returning to the starting XI while Luke O’Neill missed out for the trip to Blackpool while Callum Reilly returned to the bench.
Early indications showed that Leo Da Silva Lopes was lining up at the top of the diamond with Oldaker sitting at the base, and Gills made a bright start.
Gills took an early lead in Lancashire through Brandon Hanlan, the forward picked up the ball inside the area and did brilliantly to jink between a couple of defenders before slotting in to the top corner expertly. A great start for Mark Patterson’s men after just six minutes in.
Gills had made an impressive start in their final outing of the season, and the changed back four were keeping the Tangerines backline at bay.
However, the first chance for the hosts nearly resulted in a goal, Armand Gnanduillet drove across the Gills backline from left to right, but Barry Fuller was on hand to clear the ball away.
It wouldn’t be long though before the Gills fans were celebrating once again though. With 29 minutes on the clock Tom Eaves netted his 20th league goal of the season, and in some style too. Eaves picked the ball up on the edge of the area, right of centre and curled it brilliantly in to the far corner to leave the keeper with no chance. Another assist for Mark Byrne.
It was to get even better in the 40th minute as Eaves netted his second of the game. this time though he was helped by a superb cross from Bradley Garmston; the left-back drove down the wing before picking out Eaves perfectly, and the forward did the rest to slot the ball home perfectly and send the away end fans crazy.
Blackpool made a double change at the break in an attempt to try and get back in to the game, but the first chance of the second half fell the way of the Gills. Hanlan nicked the ball off the defender, Gills moved the ball out to the right, but Fuller struck over.
In the 55th minute Tomas Holy was forced in to a good save to deny Marc Bola, the left back caught it cleanly but Holy got down well to keep the effort out.
Five minutes later and the hosts thought they had pulled a goal back, but a header at the back post was ruled out for offside. In the build up to the offside, Connor Ogilvie had cleared an effort off the line.
Gills first change saw Alex Lacey replace Leo Da Silva Lopes, who had been booked moments prior to being withdrawn.
Blackpool were piling on the pressure, but Gills were holding firm. Curtis Tilt was the next man to come close for Blackpool, but Holy was on hand to produce a fine save up to his left to keep the score at 0-3.
Tom Eaves was replaced by Elliott List with just a few minutes left; the number nine receiving a brilliant reception from the travelling fans. Jimmy Ryan shot wide for Blackpool as the minutes started to tick down.
A season of ups and downs for the Gills who ended the campaign in 13th, and for the 503 Gills fans in attendance at Bloomfield Road on Saturday afternoon, it will be a happy bank holiday weekend indeed.
Blackpool: Mafoumbi, Anderton, Evans (Ryan 45), Henegan, Spearing, Pritchard, Thompson (Feeney, Tilt, Gnanduillet, Bola, Long (Deflounso 45)
Unused subs: Boney, Dodoo, Guy, Shaw
Gillingham: Holy, Fuller, Ogilvie, Ehmer, Garmston, Byrne, Oldaker (Reilly 78), Lopes (Lacey 68), Charles-Cook, Hanlan, Eaves (List 87).
Unused subs: Hadler, Rees, Parrett, Campbell.
Attendance: 9571 (503 Gills fans)