Published: 00:00, 11 March 2014
| Updated: 20:40, 11 March 2014
Adebayo Akinfenwa scored twice from the spot as Gills earned back-to-back victories for the first time since October with a 4-2 win over Coventry on Tuesday night.
But the highlight was a stunning 40-yard strike by Jake Hessenthaler in the last minute of normal time that clinched Gills’ victory.
He spotted keeper Joe Murphy off his line and was rewarded for a cracking strike that left boss Peter Taylor with his hands on his head.
Akinfenwa struck in either half against the 10-man Sky Blues, who had captain Dan Seaborne sent off for the challenge on Cody McDonald which led to the first penalty.
Leon Legge conceded two penalties at the other end as Coventry stayed in the hunt but Gills triumphed, with Myles Weston also on target.
Charlie Lee was rewarded with a start following his late winner against Crawley.
He took Craig Fagan’s place in midfield, while Akinfenwa returned up front in place of Joe Pigott in the only other change for Gills.
McDonald dragged an early effort wide from Akinfenwa’s flick, while Legge headed over Hessenthaler’s far-post corner as Gills created the better chances despite Coventry having more of the ball.
Sky Blues dangerman Callum Wilson lifted an effort over the bar with the visitors’ first chance but the game swung Gillingham’s way when McDonald was hauled down by last man Seaborne as he went through on goal.
Referee Darren Seldrake looked set to let Seaborne off without punishment until consulting with his linesman.
The red card followed and Akinfenwa sent Murphy the wrong way from the spot to put Gills in front in the 25 minute.
Akinfenwa and Barrett sent headers wide as Gills looked to turn the screw against the 10 men who gamely left Wilson and Nathan Delfouneso up front, opting for a three-man midfield.
Coventry still enjoyed decent little spells of possession but were saved by the linesman’s flag in first-half injury time when McDonald’s header was ruled out for offside after Legge met another Hessenthaler corner.
Gills were pegged back four minutes into the second half with Legge harshly penalised for a challenge on Wilson, who beat Stuart Nelson from the spot.
The hosts responded well to the setback and went back in front on 56 minutes when Lee’s long throw was flicked on by Legge for Weston to send a header over keeper Murphy.
Jordan Clarke had a free-kick beaten away and Wilson finished tamely after a decent run as Coventry looked for a way back.
But Gills made it 3-1 in the 73rd minute with Akinfenwa’s second penalty of the night.
The big man was impeded by Andrew Webster as he went for goal from McDonald’s cross and once again he sent Murphy the wrong way from the spot.
Coventry rallied with Nelson blocking Wilson’s effort with his legs, then Clarke missed the target.
City hopes were raised when another challenge by Legge on Wilson saw substitute Carl Baker score from the spot with seven minutes left.
But Hessenthaler's first goal for Gills clinched a key victory for Taylor's men.
Gillingham: Nelson, Hewitt, Martin, Gregory, Legge, Barrett, Lee (Lingazni 70mins), Hessenthaler (Davies 90mins), Akinfenwa (Fagan 77mins), McDonald, Weston. Subs not used: Dack, Borrowdale, Pigott, Baxter.
Attendance: 5,447 (268 from Coventry)
More by this authorCraig Tucker
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