Port Vale 2 Gillingham 1
Gillingham's interim manager Peter Taylor Picture: Barry Goodwin
Gillingham threw away a first half lead at Port Vale and left with nothing.
Danny Kedwell put the Gills ahead with a 13th minute header but straight after the restart Chris Robertson levelled the scores.
Substitute Tom Pope headed the hosts ahead and his goal was enough to win it for Micky Adams’ Vale.
Peter Taylor, the Gills interim boss, handed a rare start to Amine Linganzi. The Frenchman replaced Steven Gregory as Gillingham’s only change in the starting XI.
Both Danny Kedwell (hamstring) and Charlie Lee (ankle) shrugged off pre-match injury concerns to face last season’s League 2 title rivals.
The Gills won last season’s race for the League 2 crown but had made a worse start than Adams’ side at the start of the current campaign.
But it was the Gills who made the better start to Saturday’s game, as Linganzi’s cross was headed home by Kedwell, for his seventh goal of the season and third in a row.
Vale forward Ben Williamson dinked a shot narrowly over seconds later and later in the half keeper Stuart Nelson made a good save to save Doug Loft’s long-range effort.
It was far from one-sided, as the Gills came close to doubling their advantage in the opening half. Chris Whelpdale fired a powerful effort narrowly over and also saw an effort saved by keeper Chris Neal.
Vale brought on striker Tom Pope for the second half but it was central defender Robertson who scored the equalising goal. Ben Williamson had wriggled his way into the box and forced a save from Nelson. From Doug Loft’s resulting corner Robertson headed home.
The hosts put the pressure on after their goal, with Williamson continuing to give Gillingham a tough time.
With just over an hour gone Pope put Vale ahead, heading home after running onto a floated ball over the Gillingham defence.
Taylor attempted to get Gills firing again by taking Kedwell and Lee off for Cody McDonald and Antonio German.
With seven minutes to go German missed a great chance to make it 2-2, as a poor pass from Anthony Griffith led to a break from Chris Whelpdale. But when the Gills midfielder picked out German in the box, he shot across the face of goal.
Gillingham: Nelson, Martin, Harriman, Barrett, Legge, Linganzi (Dack 82mins), Hollands, Whelpdale, Lee (McDonald 70mins), Kedwell (German 70mins), Weston. Subs not used: Howard, Davies, Akinfenwa, Gregory.
Port Vale: Neal, Yates, Robertson, Dickinson, Chilvers, Loft, Dodds, Lines, Griffith, Williamson, Hugill (Pope 46mins). Subs not used: Johnson, Myrie-Williams, Jones, Duffy, Birchall, Hughes.
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