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Gillingham 1 Port Vale 2

Gillingham v Port Vale

Despair for Gillingham as Port Vale double their lead. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Gillingham were replaced at the summit of League 2 after losing Saturday’s top-of-the-table encounter.

Tom Pope put visiting Port Vale ahead with just three minutes gone and Vale added a second through Lee Hughes before Danny Kedwell halved the deficit.

The Gills piled on the pressure in the latter stages of the second half but Vale hung on to win the game and take over at the top.

Kedwell was the only change to Martin Allen’s starting XI from the side which had beaten Bristol Rovers the week before. Kedwell, without a goal in his last nine appearances, replaced Adam Birchall.

The Gills had taken a third-minute lead in each of their last two matches but on Saturday the roles were reversed when Pope headed home a cross from Adam Yates early on.

Jack Payne smashed a shot narrowly wide as the Gills sought an immediate response and the chances kept coming. Kedwell saw his looping header go just over and Myles Weston’s vicious shot from an angle was well saved by keeper Chris Neal.

But for all of Gillingham’s possession and chances they soon found themselves two goals behind. A 21st-minute free-kick was met by Pope and, despite Stuart Nelson making a great save, the ball ended up in the net. New Vale signing Hughes got the slightest of touches to put the ball over the line.

Just seconds later the Gills surged down the other end and Kedwell smashed home on the turn from just inside the box. The top corner finish was much-needed to keep alive the home side's chances.

Allen’s men went into the break a goal behind despite more chances coming their way. Payne hit another long-range shot just the wrong side of the post and Matt Fish also went close.

Chances dried up at the start of the second half but as the hour mark passed the Gillingham pressure intensified. Substitutes Steve Gregory and Birchall were brought on to try and drive home that advantage.

Joe Martin’s corner midway through the half resulted in a goalmouth scramble and when the ball fell to Chris Whelpdale he hit a shot that dipped just over the bar.

Whelpdale’s replacement, Charlie Lee, went close to levelling with 10 minutes left but, as he powered a header at goal from close range, Neal showed great reflexes to divert the effort wide.

The Gills maintained the pressure to the final whistle but without any reward. Vale could have made it 3-1 in stoppage time, but Ben Williamson shot wide when clean through on the break.

Gillingham: Nelson, Fish, Martin, Legge, Barrett, Frampton, Payne (Gregory 65mins), Whelpdale (Lee 75mins), Weston, Kedwell, Burton (Birchall 65mins). Subs not used: Forecast, Jackman, Allen, Strevens.

Port Vale: Neal, Yates, Purse, Loft, Myrie-Williams (Andrew 76mins), Vincent (Taylor 81mins), Burge, Duffy, Chilvers, Pope, Hughes (Williamson 75mins). Subs not used: Johnson, Shuker, Davis, Birchall.

Attendance: 8,392.

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