Inspirational second half sub heads home to give Gills victory in Cheshire.
John Akinde scored his first of the season as Gillingham defeated Crewe 1-0 at the Alexandra Stadium on Tuesday evening to record their first win in six outings.
Akinde, who came on as a second-half substitute, met a Jordan Graham cross at the back post and headed beyond Will Jaaskelainen into the back of the net.
Loanee Joe Lumley did fantastically well throughout, making a string of fine saves to frustrate Crewe, who bossed possession but couldn't find a way past a stubborn Gills defence.
Steve Evans made two changes to the starting XI that lost to Sunderland at the weekend. Dominic Samuel dropped to the bench while Alex MacDonald began his three-game suspension following his red card at the weekend. Tom O’Connor and Trae Coyle started in their place.
It was a quiet opening ten minutes to the game with neither side creating a clear chance. Crewe had a lot of the ball, but the Gills remained solid out of possession and gave the hosts no room to create an opportunity.
The Gills had the first chance of the game, and it came following a bright spell of possession.
After some nice passing play down the left, Tom O’Connor whipped a cross into the box. His ball was met by the head of Vadaine Oliver, but his header was a simple save for Jaaskelainen.
Moments later Charlie Kirk missed a huge chance to give Crewe the lead.
They caught Gillingham on the counter-attack, and a cross from Tom Lowery was met by Kirk. He had the entire goal at his mercy but somehow put his shot wide from close range.
In the 25th minute, Jordan Graham almost found the back of the net in bizarre fashion.
His in-swinging corner made its way towards goal and caught out Jaaskelainen, but the delivery cannoned off the crossbar and out for a goal-kick.
The Gills had a huge let off in the 32nd minute when former striker Mikael Mandron did well to turn, look up and play Daniel Powell through on goal. Powell was one-on-one with Joe Lumley but could only hit the outside of the post with his effort.
Lumley was forced into action moments later.
Harry Pickering played Kirk in on goal, but his curling effort was parried out of the penalty area by the visiting goalkeeper.
Crewe had another great chance soon after, this time through Mandron. He met Kirk’s cross, but his diving header was brilliantly saved by Lumley, and the QPR man was called into action once more just before half-time.
Callum Ainley managed to get away from Jack Tucker and fired a strong effort towards goal. It took a strong hand from the Gills loanee keeper to tip the ball over the crossbar and keep the scores level.
HALF-TIME: CREWE 0-0 GILLINGHAM
Crewe picked up where they left off in the second half and Mandron came close again in the 53rd minute.
He was first to meet a cross towards the front post, and his shot towards goal bounced off the inside of the post and fell into the arms of a grateful Lumley as the Gills somehow stayed level.
In the 55th minute John Akinde replaced Trae Coyle, and this change appeared to spark Gillingham into a response.
Ryan Jackson did well to get down the right-hand side, and he cut the ball back to Dempsey on the edge of the box. He found some space, but his left-footed effort was straight at Jaaskelainen.
However, Gillingham didn't have to wait too much longer to celebrate the opening goal of the game.
Tucker played a great cross field ball to Graham who did brilliantly to bring it under control and find space for a cross. His left-footed delivery found Akinde at the back post and his header beat the goalkeeper and found the back of the net. It was Akinde's first goal of the season, having only just come on.
The visitors came close to a second through Tom O’Connor.
Graham did well once more to get down the right-hand side and find space to put in a cross. His ball was met by the oncoming midfielder, but his header from ten yards went just over the crossbar.
With just six minutes remaining Lumley made another crucial save.
Oli Finney was unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, but could only shoot straight at the Gills keeper who had a fantastic evening in goal.
Gillingham defended valiantly in the final moments, and their defensive efforts were enough to secure the three points as they stood strong against the constant Crewe pressure.
FULL-TIME: CREWE 0-1 GILLINGHAM
Crewe: Jaaskelainen, Ng, Beckles, Offord, Pickering, Ainley (Finney 77), Wintle, Lowery (Zanzala 88), Powell (Dale 69), Mandron, Kirk.
Unused subs: Richards, Sass-Davies, Porter, Murphy,
Gillingham: Lumley; Jackson, Tucker, Ogilvie, Medley; McKenzie, Dempsey, O’Connor (Willock 90’); Graham, Coyle (Akinde 55’), Oliver (Samuel 71’)
Unused subs: Walsh, Maghoma, Drysdale, Woods
Referee: Mr K Johnson