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Gillingham 3 Southend United 0

Rene Howe
Rene Howe

Rene Howe celebrates scoring the second goal Picture: Barry Goodwin

by Luke Cawdell

Gillingham turned in a match-winning second half display to see off Southend at Priestfield on Monday.

Goals from Dennis Oli, Rene Howe and Andy Barcham after the break provided the Gills with a vital three points in their battle at the bottom end of League 1.

The Gills started the match in the division’s relegation-zone but it proved to be a short stay as they immediately lifted themselves clear with victory at Priestfield.

Assistant manager Scott Barrett was pleased to see the Gills bounce back from Monday’s defeat to Oldham and straight out of the bottom four.

He said: “On Saturday we went looking for three points and that’s what we got. The clean sheet helps us on the goal difference side and the quality of the football, the endeavour of the players and the fitness levels were excellent.

“It was an all-round good day for us.”

Barrett was pleased to see the side show what they can do in the second half.

“We just wanted to play a bit more football in the second half,” he said.

“We wanted to get the ball down and play We’ve got some good footballers so we said let’s play some good football.

“We’re not a team to just bash it in the air and run in behind, we like to play, and a couple of goals were total football and that was nice to see."

Gillingham went into the break on the ascendancy and would have been disappointed to have not broken the deadlock after a handful of guilt-edged chances.

The best fell to Howe, five minutes before the interval, but his point-blank shot from Danny Jackman’s cross was fired at the chest of keeper Steve Mildenhall.

Howe had come close midway through the half as well with a shot that just rolled past the far post.

An early free-kick from Jackman also went narrowly wide.

The visitors had started the game in lively fashion and the Gills had their own keeper Alan Julian to thank for keeping an effort from Simon Francis out.

Just two minutes into the second half and Gills took the lead, when Oli pounced from close range, after Mildenhall had fumbled Curtis Weston’s initial effort.

Barcham came close to doubling that lead five minutes into the second half but his shot was blocked by defender Adam Barrett.

The chances kept coming for the Gills, with Oli having a shot that deflected onto the top of the bar, and Mildenhall again denying Howe.

Oli was withdrawn after 70 minutes as a precaution as he had been playing with a hip flexer injury. On came 17-goal Simeon Jackson returning from his own injury woes.

Most of the Priestfield crowd thought that Adam Miller had added a second, with a close-range shot from Barcham’s cross, but it had just crept the wrong side of the post.

The Gills finally got the second goal they deserved with 74 minutes gone. A clearance out of defence found Jackson and he in turn passed to Howe to claim his first goal for the club, sending a shot across Mildenhall.

Barcham wrapped up the points with five minutes left after a flowing move from the back, again involving Weston, with the Gills’ winger sweeping home his eighth goal of the season from inside the box

Gills: Julian, Fuller, Richards, Dennehy, Nutter, Miller, Weston (Maher 89mins), Jackman, Barcham, Howe (Lewis 89mins), Oli (Jackson 70mins). Subs not used: Royce, Bentley, Dickson, Gowling.

Southend: Mildenhall, Francis, Christophe (O’Keefe 75mins), Baldwin, Barrett, Grant, Sankofa, Vernon, Herd, Laurent (Crawford 77mins), Spencer (Paterson 65mins). Subs not used: Malone, M’Voto, Bentley.

Attendance: 7,657

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