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Gillingham 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 1

By Luke Cawdell

Deon Burton

Striker Deon Burton tucks away the winning penalty   Picture: Barry Goodwin

Deon Burton’s second half penalty clinched a home win for Gillingham and a place back at the top of League 2.

Leon Legge netted a first half opener for the Gills but it was all-square shortly after the interval as Femi Ilesanmi struck for Dagenham.

Substitute Burton restored the lead by scoring from the spot and his 11th goal of the season was enough to take all three points.

Defeat for Port Vale at home to Morecambe saw the Gills return to the top of the table.

Martin Allen made two changes to the team which started in midweek against York City.

Midfielder Charlie Allen missed out with a broken leg, while Deon Burton dropped to the bench, as Charlie Lee and Myles Weston returned to the starting line-up.

New arrivals Ryan Williams and Michael Richardson started the afternoon from the bench but neither came on.

Gillingham were looking to bounce back on home soil after suffering a 1-0 defeat to Wycombe last time they were playing at Priestfield. Allen’s men returned having picked up four points on the road in their last two matches.

Dagenham had the better of the early exchanges and Luke Wilkinson almost smashed in an opener, only to see his close-range effort hit Andy Frampton and bounce clear.

Gillingham’s worries were eased on 28 minutes as Legge pounced on a cross from Myles Weston to put the home side ahead. The linesman initially flagged for off-side but after a discussion with referee Iain Williamson the goal was given.

Just before the break Ilesanmi showed a bit of skill to create some space but put the subsequent shot wide. A cross from the same player moments later had too much pace on it for former Gills striker Ben Strevens to slide in on time.

Ilesanmi was quick to show his skills again in the second half, as he left Chris Whelpdale and Fish in his wake, played a fortunate one-two and then finished with the outside of his foot to beat keeper Stuart Nelson.

The Gills looked to make an immediate response from the 52nd minute equaliser but a header from Cody McDonald went wide and Charlie Lee’s effort was cleared off the line by Luke Howell.

Burton had been on the pitch for just three minutes when he got the chance to put the Gills infront from the penalty spot. And the striker made no mistake, tucking the ball past keeper Chris Lewington, who had escaped with a yellow card, after downing Anton Robinson in the box.

Dagenham pressed late on as the Gills went more defensive, with McDonald leaving the field and being replaced by Steven Gregory. Dagenham had little joy infront of Gills’ goal as the hosts defended in numbers to secure the points.

Burton had the chance to score his second but he headed Weston's injury-time cross wide.

Gillingham: Nelson, Fish (Dack 81mins), Martin, Barrett, Legge, Frampton (Burton 65mins), Whelpdale, Robinson, Lee, Weston, McDonald (Gregory 73mins). Subs not used: Forecast, Richardson, Williams, Birchall.

Dagenham: Lewington, Wilkinson, Hoyte (Reed 90mins), Ilesanmi, Doe, Elito (Caprice 75mins), Ogogo, Saunders (Green 79mins), Howell, Williams, Strevens. Subs not used: Maher, Woodall, Bingham, Seabright.

Attendance:  5,611

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