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Gillingham manager Martin Allen takes delight from a 1-0 win over Southend United in League 2

Gillingham boss Martin Allen was delighted to see his team show their class again.

A New Year’s Day win over Southend came a week after their Boxing Day defeat to Barnet and put the Gills back at the top of the pile in League 2.

“The team were back to their best, there is no doubt about that,” said Allen, pictured.

“It certainly helps when you can call upon a centre-back (Leon Legge) who we have just signed (from Brentford)and put into the team. He was immense, as was the whole team. Everyone was fantastic.”

The Gills took a third-minute lead through Chris Whelpdale and could have extended their advantage during a one-sided first half. But Southend came back fighting after the break.

Allen said: “There was always going to be some part of the second half where Southend would come back into it. They have (previously) only lost one in 13 and they have got a lot of dangerous forward players and in the end they were playing with five centre forwards.

“They did have one chance at the end, which was luckily put over the bar, but we also had several in the first half and on the counter-attack in the second we hit the inside of the post, which would have tucked it away at 2-0.

“All the players put in a tremendous performance for what is a local derby, just across the river, and it is a great day for all our travelling supporters, especially after the knock-back of that Boxing Day game.”

The Gills had been knocked off top spot over Christmas by Port Vale but the leaders lost on New Year's Day to Fleetwood, allowing Allen's men to reclaim their place as League 2 pacesetters.

Making his debut for the Gills at Southend was central defender Legge, who has signed a two-and-a-half year deal. He was delighted with his first outing.

He said: “I thought we played well and the lads have taken to me really well. Second half we defended well and I can’t really remember Stuart Nelson (Gills goalkeeper) doing too much and when they came at us we batted them away.”

Allen also revealed post-match that the loan deal for Romain Vincelot has not been extended. The Southend game would have been the Frenchman's last of his loan spell from Brighton but he missed out with a knee injury.

What did you make of Gillingham's performance at Southend? Comment below.

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