Danny Kedwell celebrates scoring the second goal in Gillingham's 2-0 victory over Torquay on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin
by Luke Cawdell
Gillingham bagged a much-needed three points at Priestfield with a commanding display against Torquay in League 2.
Simon King headed the Gills in front early in the second half and the win was sealed as Danny Kedwell scored from the spot.
It was Gills’ first win since beating Aldershot on January 2 and ends a run of six league games without a run in the league.
An entertaining first half failed to provide a goal.
Torquay threatened in the opening minutes as they looked lively in attack, with Gills keeper Paulo Gazzaniga clawing away a dangerous Danny Stevens cross.
Gavin Tomlin’s shot, which went just wide on 15 minutes, heralded the start of a good spell for the hosts.
Visiting keeper Bobby Olejnik had to claim a Chris Whelpdale header and moments later raced off his line to beat Jack Evans to the ball.
Curtis Weston almost finished off a good solo run but again Olejnik was there to deny the Gills.
Ian Morris and Stevens both had shots at the other end, which Gazzaniga claimed comfortably, while there was relief for the home fans when Eunan O’Kane stayed on his feet in the area after Connor Essam slid into a tackle. Any connection would have seen referee Jock Waugh point to the penalty spot.
Jo Kuffour and Tomlin was looking lively in attack for the Gills but the half ended without a goal.
Gillingham’s youthful defence had been tested but were standing up well to the threat posed by the lively pair of O’Kane and Stevens, together with the physical presence of former Gills player Rene Howe.
A lively start to the second half saw Essam make an expertly time tackle to deny Howe, just as he looked to shoot while bearing down on goal, after the Torquay man capitalised on a slip from Simon King.
Moments later King was on hand to hook the ball clear from in front of goal, as O’Kane whipped in a cross towards Howe.
The Gills went down the other end and after several minutes of pressure got the goal they craved. King was the man to head home a Danny Jackman corner with a fantastic diving header. It was only King’s third goal of his Gills career, but it was a timely strike.
Torquay brought on a second striker for the final half hour as they looked to get back into the match.
Gillingham soaked up some of the United pressure and caused problems themselves for the Torquay defence, with Tomlin being a constant threat.
With 10 minutes left, substitute Lewis Montrose hit a shot into the side netting moments before lashing an effort just wide.
There was a late scare for the Gills as Gazzaniga was penalised for a challenge just outside the area. Kevin Nicholson’s subsequent free-kick had pace, and was awkward, but was hacked clear. In injury-time Torquay substitute Taiwo Atieno headed wide.
The Gills sealed the win in the fourth minute of stoppage time as Danny Kedwell slammed home from the spot after Gavin Tomlin was brought down in the box by Brian Saah. Referee Jock Waugh, who wasn't going to give a penalty until being swayed by his assistant, sent off a bewildered Joe Oastler for the foul.
Gillingham: Gazzaniga, King, Evans, Essam, Jackman, Payne, Whelpdale, Weston (C Lee 71mins), Kedwell, Kuffour (Montrose 79mins), Tomlin. Subs not used: Richards, Martin, O Lee.
Torquay: Olejnik, Nicholson, Ellis, Saah, Lathrope (McPhee 81mins), Mansell, O’Kane, Morris (Atieno 64mins), Osatler, Stevens, Howe. Subs not used: Rice, Rowe-Turner, MacDonald.
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