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Gillingham 1 Southend United 2

Lewis Montrose puts in a tackle as Andy Frampton looks on
Lewis Montrose puts in a tackle as Andy Frampton looks on

Lewis Montrose puts in a tackle as Andy Frampton looks on Picture: Barry Goodwin

by Luke Cawdell

Gillingham’s poor form continued as they crashed to another defeat.

The Gills were 2-0 behind at the break against high-flying Southend in League 2 but left it late to threaten a fightback.

Gavin Tomlin scored a stunner to halve the deficit, on 87 minutes, but an equaliser never materialised.

It was a fourth straight league defeat that, depending on Tuesday night’s results, could leave them in the bottom half of the league table.

They haven’t sunk as low since the reverse fixture against Southend when a 1-0 defeat in September left them sitting 13.

Gillingham, playing live on Sky Sports, were looking to bounce back from successive 4-3 defeats, but it took just 10 minutes at Priestfield to concede.

Boss Andy Hessenthaler stuck with his senior players in defence, despite youngsters Connor Essam and Jack Evans itching to start.

The opening goal was created by a former Gills man as Sean Clohessy’s cross found an unmarked Kane Ferdinand. He nodded the ball down and Liam Dickinson was on hand to prod home past Paulo Gazzaniga.

Young Argentine keeper Gazzaniga was making his first league start and he had to make a flying save to deny Bilel Moshni moments later.

Southend, with a position at the top of League 2 in their sights, added a second goal with 31 minutes gone.

The Gills appealed for an offside flag that never came and when former Dartford man Dave Martin whipped in a cross the ball was turned into his own net by Joe Martin. Southend’s Kane Ferdinand claimed it, but Martin had the last touch.

Only a speculative long range effort from Lewis Montrose tested visiting keeper Glen Morris but it was easily held.

Hessenthaler made changes at the break with Jack Payne replacing Montrose in midfield and Jack Evans taking over the right-back role from Matt Lawrence.

Gillingham improved after the break but it still took another 20 minutes to force Morris into a save.

Tomlin was fed a ball by fellow forward Jo Kuffour but Morris beat the shot away.

With three minutes left the Gills finally had a goal back as Tomlin smashed home his fifth of the season for the club, after a fine solo run.

Curtis Weston saw a half chance claimed by the keeper but it was too little too late for Hessenthaler’s men.

Gillingham: Gazzaniga, Lawrence (Evans 46mins), Richards, Frampton (Essam 76mins), Martin, Jackman, Weston, Montrose (Payne 46mins), Tomlin, Kedwell, Kuffour. Subs not used: Whelpdale, Hawkes.

Southend: Morris, Clohessy, Moshni, Timlin, Ferdinand, Martin (Hall 67mins), Phillips, Prosser, Kalala, Dickinson (Sampson 85mins), Barker. Subs not used: Gilbert, Grant, Harris.

Attendance: 4,441

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