Neil Harris wins on his managerial debut in the Gills dugout with a Danny Lloyd penalty enough to record victory.
Danny Lloyd proved to be the match winner as Gills beat Crewe 1-0 in Neil Harris’ first game in charge at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
Lloyd scored from the penalty spot after Stuart O’Keefe’s effort towards the goal hit the hand of a Crewe defender. Lloyd stepped up for the spot kick and sent the visiting goalkeeper the wrong way as he slotted it into the left side of the goal.
Neil Harris made three changes for his first game in charge. Aaron Chapman, Conor Masterson and David Tutonda all came into the starting XI. Vadaine Oliver returned to the bench after missing the previous two fixtures.
Danny Lloyd had the first chance of the game for the Gills. Mustapha Carayol won the ball inside the Crewe penalty area, and Lloyd picked up the loose ball. He decided to strike it with his right foot. However, Will Jaaskelainen pulled off a good save to push it away from danger.
Carayol came close to giving the hosts the lead as his run into the box saw space open up to shoot on his left foot. His effort took a slight deflection as it went just wide of the far post.
Moments later, the Gills were awarded a penalty. Robbie McKenzie’s ball into the box found Carayol, who laid it back to Stuart O’Keefe. The Gills captain shot first time and saw his effort by blocked by the hand of a Crewe defender, and the referee pointed to the spot.
Lloyd was the one to step up and found the back of the net as he sent Jaaskelainen the wrong way.
Gills almost doubled their lead just three minutes later. Lloyd drove down the left side before drilling a ball across the six-yard box. Charlie Kelman was inches away from getting a crucial touch, but McKenzie latched onto it at the back post. Unfortunately, he could not keep his effort down as he missed the target.
Tom Lowery had Crewe’s first opportunity in the 24th minute. He received the ball 30 yards from goal and ran forward before shooting. It took a slight deflection on its way towards the goal and dipped just over the bar.
There was a lengthy stoppage during the first-half stoppage time for Carayol. The winger went up to challenge for a header and could not get up following it. He received treatment before being stretchered off the pitch. He was replaced by Vadaine Oliver. Carayol walked back to the dressing room during the interval.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 1-0 Crewe Alexandra
Chapman had to react quickly to save Dan Agyei’s effort from 20 yards in the 52nd minute. It was directed towards the bottom corner, and the Gills keeper had to get down quickly to push it behind the post for a corner, which Gills dealt with.
In the 56th minute, Crewe were inches away from an equaliser. A short corner routine allowed Tariq Uwakwe to aim the ball towards the top corner of the far post. It looked like it could be finding the back of the net, but Chapman did excellently to get over to it and push it behind the post.
Moments later, Oliver came inches away from making it two. A long ball over the top put Oliver through on goal, and he decided to shoot with his left foot from long range. It beat Jaaskelainen but hit the inside of the post. It looked like it would roll over the line but somehow went out for a goal-kick.
Chapman did well to deny Agyei again in the 66th minute. He tried to curl a shot from the edge of the box into the far corner with his left foot. However, he was equal to it and palmed it away from danger.
Crewe kept knocking on the door as the game came to a close, but the Gills defence stood firm to win for the first time since October.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 1-0 Crewe Alexandra
Gillingham: Chapman, Masterson, Ehmer, Tucker, McKenzie, Lee, O’Keefe, Tutonda, Lloyd (Jackson 85’), Carayol (Oliver 45+14’), Kelman (Phillips 68’)
Unused Substitutes: Dahlberg, Maghoma, Dickson-Peters, Sithole
Crewe Alexandra: Jaaskelainen, Alebiosu, Offord, Long (Sambou 33’), Lowery, Mandron (Porter 43’), Finney (Ainley 73’), Agyei, Murphy, Sass-Davies, Uwakwe
Unused Substitutes: Richards, Griffiths, Johnson, O’Riordan
Attendance: 4917 (151 Crewe fans)
Referee: Darren Drysdale