Tom Nichols and Aiden O'Brien find the net at the Rainham End as Gills beat Crewe at ME7.
Aiden O’Brien’s first Gillingham goal was the match-winner as the Gills beat Crewe 2-1 at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The forward had been on the pitch for three minutes and got on the end of Tom Nichols' through ball before slotting it past David Richards.
Nichols had given Gillingham the lead in the 57th minute. Alex MacDonald capitalised on a poor clearance before playing a perfectly weighted ball to the striker, who found himself in acres of space. He remained composed as he kept his volley low and found the back of the net.
Callum Ainley equalised five minutes later as he curled an incredible strike into the top corner, leaving Glenn Morris helpless in trying to keep it out.
With Crewe going in search of a late equaliser, the Gills stood firm and had Cheye Alexander and Morris to thank. Alexander produced a fantastic goal-saving block before the second ball fell to Matus Holicek. He tried to beat Morris at his near post, but the Gills keeper did brilliantly to claw the ball away from the goal.
Neil Harris made three changes to the side that lost at Walsall, with Robbie McKenzie, Dom Jefferies and Alex MacDonald returning to the starting XI. David Tutonda, Aiden O’Brien and George Lapslie dropped to the bench, while Taite Holtam was among the substitutes.
The visitors had the first chance of the game in the 15th minute. Regan Griffiths’ corner from the left was curled towards the back post, where Elliott Nevitt had peeled away, leaving himself unmarked. Nevitt headed it goalward, and Morris palmed it away. The ball eventually fell to Rio Adebisi, who could not make clear contact with his shot before Gillingham cleared their lines.
David Amoo put a good cross into the box in the 29th minute. The forward received the ball on the right and drilled a low-driven ball into the penalty area. Dan Agyei was trying to get across his marker and slid to try and make contact to send it goalward. Agyei could not make any contact with the ball as it went out to the left. Nevitt eventually got a shot away on the edge of the penalty area, which was deflected out for a corner and came to nothing.
Amoo came close shortly before half-time. He received the ball in a central area 30 yards from the goal and inside went onto his left foot before trying his luck, with his effort dragging just wide of the post.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 0-0 Crewe Alexandra
McKenzie had a good chance in the 51st minute. The left-back received the ball just inside the Crewe half before making his way into the visiting penalty area. He shot with his left foot, but his effort cleared the bar.
In the 57th minute, Tom Nichols volleyed Gillingham in front. The visitors attempted clearance was scuffed into the path of MacDonald, who had space to run into towards the penalty area. Nichols was in acres of space across the box, and MacDonald spotted that as he lofted the ball in his direction. Nichols volleyed it first-time and did brilliantly to keep his effort down as he slotted it beyond David Richards.
Adebisi’s attempted cross hit the crossbar shortly afterwards. The full-back did well to get to the byline before trying to cut the cross back into the middle. He could not get the angle right as it landed on the top of the bar before McKenzie headed it out for a corner.
Moments later, Callum Ainley equalised for Crewe with a fantastic strike. The visitors had a shot blocked inside the penalty area, and an attempted clearance fell to Ainley inside the penalty area. He struck it first time, curling the ball across the goal and into the top corner, leaving Morris with no chance of keeping it out.
Aiden O’Brien replaced Jefferies in the 67th minute and made an immediate impact. Gills capitalised on a poor clearance, and Nichols had the ball on the edge of the box. He played it through in the direction of MacDonald and O’Brien, and it was the latter that took the initiative as he slotted it beyond Richards.
Ethan Coleman had a good chance shortly after coming on. He received the ball inside the penalty area on the right and tried his luck with a powerful effort. Coleman tried to beat Richards at his near post but could not get it on target.
In the 82nd minute, O'Brien came close again as he got on the end of MacDonald's cross. He headed it down, but it was too central as Richards got down to make the save.
In the final moments of normal time, Oli Hawkins thought he had scored Gillingham’s third. Cheye Alexander’s cross was deep into the penalty area, and Hawkins did well to direct his header across the goal and into the back of the net. Unfortunately, it was disallowed due to a foul. In the aftermath of the decision, Gills manager Neil Harris was shown a red card.
Moments later, Alexander produced an incredible block before the second ball fell to Matus Holicek, who saw his effort towards the near post clawed away by Morris.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 2-1 Crewe Alexandra
Gillingham: Morris, Alexander (Tutonda 90’), Ehmer, Masterson, McKenzie, Williams, Dieng (Lapslie 67’), Jefferies (O’Brien 67’), MacDonald (Wright 90’), Hawkins, Nichols (Coleman 77’)
Unused Substitutes: Holtam, Abrahams
Crewe Alexandra: Richards, Mellor, Offord, Adebisi, Tabiner, Ainley (Holicek 84’), Thomas, Griffiths, Amoo (Baker-Richardson 69’), Nevitt, Agyei
Unused Substitutes: Lawton, Lunt, Webster, Kempster-Down
Referee: James Oldham
Attendance: 5996 (89 away supporters)