Gillingham 3 Port Vale 2
Gillingham striker Adebayo Akinfenwa Picture: Barry Goodwin
Adebayo Akinfenwa scored twice as Gillingham survived a late fightback to beat Port Vale 3-2 at Priestfield on Saturday afternoon.
He struck with a header in each half before making way for new loan signing Joe Piggott as Gills made it four games unbeaten at home.
Cody McDonald then added a third but Vale’s Chris Robertson and Jordan Hugill replied in the last 10 minutes.
Both sides were committed to attack in a lively start.
McDonald pulled an effort wide after finding space on the edge of the box inside the opening 20 seconds and not long after played a ball across the six-yard box that just needed a touch.
Vale captain Doug Loft looked bright down the left but despite working their way into the Gills box several times, they didn’t test keeper Stuart Nelson.
Amine Linganzi kept Gills ticking over and was arguably the hosts’ brightest player in the first half.
He broke up play effectively and showed an eye for a pass.
He also got forward and went close to breaking the deadlock on 17 minutes with a curling effort from 20 yards that went past the far post.
Joe Martin sent a free-kick over the bar following a foul on Akinfenwa on the edge of the box, while Steven Gregory’s ambitious first-time volley from Michael Harriman’s cross would have been the goal of the season but went high into the Brian Moore Stand.
Gregory was involved again as Gills went in front on 42 minutes, his shot pushed wide by Chris Neal, with Akinfenwa heading home Bradley Dack’s corner.
Louis Dodds wasted a good chance as Port Vale made a promising start to the second half.
But it took a superb double save from Neal to deny Gills a second goal on 54 minutes, blocking shots from McDonald and Linganzi following Martin’s clever free-kick, with Dack’s effort then blocked on the line as Vale survived.
Gills, though, did score their second goal on the hour with Akinfenwa climbing well at the far post to meet Dack’s cross.
And it was 3-0 just four minutes later as Dack played the ball across goal for McDonald to finish.
Gills were now all over the visitors with McDonald finding the side-netting from a tight angle after going through one-on-one with Neal.
Chris Robertson gave Vale hope on 80 minutes when his header was ruled to have crossed the line.
And substitute Jordan Hugill set up a nervy finish by lashing home the visitors' second with three minutes left.
Gills: Nelson, Hewitt, Martin, Barrett, Legge, Linganzi (Smith 75mins), Gregory, Harriman, Akinfenwa (Piggott 70mins), McDonald, Dack. Subs not used: Davies, Weston, Howard, Fagan, Hessenthaler.
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