Alex MacDonald and Cheye Alexander both find the back of the net as Gills defeat champions-elect, Leyton Orient, at ME7.
Goals from Alex MacDonald and Cheye Alexander helped secure Gillingham’s Football League status as they beat promoted Leyton Orient 2-0 at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
The game was delayed in the 77th minute due to a floodlight failure caused by a power cut in the local area, which sent both sets of players back to their dressing rooms. During the time it took for the game to restart, Orient’s promotion was secured due to results elsewhere.
That caused an uneventful end to the game, with both clubs knowing that their fates had been sealed.
Neil Harris named an unchanged starting XI after the draw against Stockport at the weekend. Oli Hawkins returned to the squad following a bout with illness, while David Tutonda was named among the substitutes.
Leyton Orient travelled to the MEMS Priestfield Stadium with the chance to win promotion to League One, and Richie Wellens named an unchanged starting line-up.
Darren Pratley almost gave Orient the lead in the ninth minute. The ball fell for the Orient captain inside the penalty area, and he got a low-driven effort away. Glenn Morris did well to get down and get a hand on it, and Cheye Alexander was on the line to make sure it did not trickle in.
The visitors came close again, needing just a touch to put Kieran Sadlier’s corner into the back of the net. Paul Smyth came diving in and missed the ball, and it flashed across the face of the goal. Ed Turns came sliding in but was inches away from getting the definitive touch.
That proved costly because moments later, Orient were reduced to ten men. Tim Dieng and George Lapslie linked up as the Gills went forward, and Laplsie found himself through on goal. He was brought down on the edge of the penalty area by Omar Beckles, and the referee gave the defender a straight red card.
From the resulting free-kick, Alex MacDonald gave Gillingham the lead. The ball was positioned to the right of the goal, and Shaun Williams took a little touch to set it for MacDonald, who struck it first time. He curled his shot around the wall and into the bottom corner. Lawrence Vigouroux got a hand to it but could not keep it out.
Tom James came close in the 43rd minute from a free-kick. The ball was positioned right of centre 25 yards from the goal, and James curled his effort goalward. Morris had it covered as it went over the crossbar, with the visitors appealing that Gillingham keeper had gotten a touch.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 1-0 Leyton Orient
Nichols was denied by a brilliant Vigoroux save just seconds into the second half. The ball was floated into the penalty area with the striker unmarked, and he headed it goalward. However, Vigouroux somehow managed to get a hand on the attempt to push it away from the goal. Gills got the rebound but could not capitalise.
Gills made their first change in the 70th minute, as Hawkins replaced Nichols.
In the 75th minute, Gillingham were awarded a penalty. Gills won a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, which MacDonald took. He drilled his effort towards the far corner, but it hit the arm of Idris El Mizouni. It left the referee with no choice but to point to the penalty spot.
Alexander was the man that took the spot kick and kept his composure as he drilled his spot kick into the bottom left corner, sending Vigouroux the wrong way.
With ten minutes remaining, there was a stoppage in play as there was a floodlight failure in the stadium. After a few minutes, the players were taken off the field of play while the issue was being resolved.
When the play had finally resumed, Leyton Orient’s promotion was already confirmed. It set out for an uneventful final ten minutes, with both teams playing out the final few moments without incident.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 2-0 Leyton Orient
Gillingham: Morris, Alexander, Ehmer, Masterson, McKenzie, Williams (Coleman , Dieng, Jefferies, Lapslie, MacDonald, Nichols (Hawkins 70’)
Unused Substitutes: Turner, Tutonda, Wright, Clarke
Leyton Orient: Vigouroux, James, Beckles, Turns (Ogie 77’), Hunt, El Mizouni, Pratley (Brown 60’), Smyth (Kelman 77’), Moncur, Sadlier (McCart 19’), Sotiriou (Drinan 60’)
Unused Substitutes: Sargeant, Clay
Referee: Carl Brook
Attendance: 6629 (1651 away supporters)