Gillingham 1 Port Vale 2
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
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
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.
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