Gills keep a clean sheet and clinch a vital win against Crawley at ME7.
Shaun Williams scored his first Gillingham goal and was the match-winner in the 1-0 win over Crawley Town at a sold-out MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday.
Tom Nichols saw his low-driven effort well saved by Corey Addai, and Williams was the first to the rebound as he thumped the ball into the back of the net just a couple of minutes into the second half.
Neil Harris made one change to the side that drew 3-3 at Swindon as Conor Masterson came into the starting XI in the place of Will Wright. Deadline day loan signings Tristan Abrahams and Aiden O’Brien were both named among the substitutes.
Tom Fellows had a big chance in the opening moments of the game to give Crawley the lead. A cross into the box fell to the forward, who could not set himself as it bounced off his foot and went wide of the post.
Dom Jefferies came close in the tenth minute after Shaun Williams played an excellent defence-splitting pass for the midfielder. Jefferies ran through on goal and tried his luck from a tight angle. However, he could not test Corey Addai as his shot went into the side netting at the Crawley keeper's near post.
Ben Gladwin had a golden opportunity a few minutes later. He made his way into the penalty area before taking it around the oncoming Glenn Morris. As he went around the former Crawley goalkeeper, he was off balance, meaning he had to set himself before getting a shot away. That gave Morris enough time to recover and get down to pull off the crucial save.
The visitors came close again moments later as Jack Powell’s corner caused Gillingham a problem. The ball made its way into the six-yard box, where there was a mini scramble before someone managed to get a shot away. Morris appeared to make the save before Gills cleared.
Gills had a golden opportunity in the 27th minute. Tom Nichols did brilliantly getting away from a defender before playing the ball inside. Timothee Dieng played it back wide to Nichols before the striker passed the ball in the direction of Jefferies. A Crawley defender fell over as the ball was being played, which allowed the 20-year-old to get into the box. He had the entire goal to aim at but scuffed his shot as went well wide of the target.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 0-0 Crawley Town
In the 47th minute, Williams gave Gillingham the lead. Nichols did well to get a low-driven shot away, and it forced Addai into a great save. Fortunately, the rebound sat perfectly for Williams, who smashed the ball into the back of the net to lift the roof off a packed MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
Nichols was denied by Addai again in the 55th minute as the visiting goalkeeper pulled off an incredible save. The ball was hooked over the top of the Crawley defence, and Nichols did well to make his way in behind while staying onside. He made his way into the penalty area before trying to slot a shot into the bottom corner. However, Addai did brilliantly to get down and get a hand on the effort, which sent it just wide of the post as the hosts somehow remained one in front.
Gills continued to play on the front foot as Nichols was at the heart of the action, as he played a cross into the box for Dieng to attack. The midfielder got his header on target, but it was straight at Addai.
In the 62nd minute, Oli Hawkins was replaced by O’Brien, who came on for his Gillingham debut.
With the game heading towards stoppage time, Tristan Abrahams made his Gills debut as the Eastleigh loanee replaced Nichols.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 1-0 Crawley Town
Gillingham: Morris, McKenzie, Ehmer, Masterson, Tutonda, Williams, MacDonald (Lapslie 86’), Jefferies, Dieng, Nichols (Abrahams 90’), Hawkins (O’Brien 62’)
Unused Substitutes: Turner, Alexander, Wright, Gbode
Crawley Town: Addai, Gordon (Johnson 90’), Conroy, Francillette, Powell (Roles 80’), Gladwin, Oteh (Nadesan 61’), Tsaroulla, Jenks, Fellows, Telford
Unused Substitutes: Schofield, Ransom, Khaleel, Ogungbo
Referee: Lewis Smith
Attendance: 9317 (840)