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Crawley 0 Gillingham 1: Harry Ransom own-goal for the Gills in League 2 match at the Broadfield Stadium

Gillingham matched their best-ever start to a league season with a win at Crawley.

Gillingham weren’t at their best but went a goal up at the break after Crawley had a penalty saved and scored an own-goal. Gills striker Ashley Nadesan was denied a goal against his former club by the crossbar as Neil Harris’ men held out for a fourth successive 1-0 win.

Gillingham goalkeeper Jake Turner saved a first half penalty Picture: Keith Gillard
Gillingham goalkeeper Jake Turner saved a first half penalty Picture: Keith Gillard

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The winning start to the season matches Tony Pulis’ promotion-winning team of 1995/96 in what was Paul Scally’s first season as chairman.

Gillingham, now under ownership of the Galinsons, matched the record with the win over Crawley, but had to defend for large periods before claiming another three points.

The two changes for the Gills on Saturday saw captain Shaun Williams and fellow midfielder Jonny Williams both return to the starting eleven.

Crawley’s summer signing from Gillingham, defender Will Wright, was up against a front-two of Ashley Nadesan and Tom Nichols, the pair both plucked from the West Sussex club to lead a promotion push for Harris’ side.

The links between these clubs run deep. Gillingham’s club secretary Kelly Derham and their director of operations Joe Comper both hail from the Reds. Comper once dressed up as their club mascot Reggie the Red. Crawley boss Scott Lindsey played for the Gills and is well known in the county of Kent.

On the field, Nadesan was coming into the match with three goals in his previous three outings, having quickly re-established a strong partnership with his former Crawley playing partner Nichols. The two combined to see off Sutton in midweek.

Backed by a sellout away crowd of 1,356 the Gills had to do a fair bit of defensive work in the opening half as Crawley looked for an early lead. There was more defending than attacking after the break too.

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Ronan Darcy had a shot held by goalkeeper Jake Turner and Danilo Orsi hit the side-netting from a corner.

Crawley had the chance to go ahead from the penalty spot when Cheye Alexander was penalised for handball but Turner denied Dom Telford from 12 yards and got back up to claim Orsi’s weak follow-up.

Turner was there again to get down well to deny Wright and as the half wore on, the Gills began to find some joy down the left flank, without troubling keeper Corey Addai.

The home stopper was beaten, however, when his own defender Harry Ransom turned Ogie’s 41st minute cross into their own net at the near post, as Nichols came steaming in for the Gills to unsettle the defence.

Gillingham were a little fortunate to lead at the break, completing another 45 minutes without conceding.

Orsi had a good chance to level early in the second half, finding space inbetween the Gills defenders to pick up a through ball, but his shot wasn’t troubling Turner. Moments later the same player fired narrowly wide as the Gills keeper was left rooted to the spot.

Gillingham had to continue on the defensive and lost midfielder Jonny Williams to a knock after a foul from Liam Kelly.

A rare opportunity at the other end with an hour gone saw Addai tip over a shot from Scott Malone, leading to a corner and a header from Ogie that was cleared off the line by Wright and then a shot from Nadesan that rattled the crossbar from close range.

Ransom was denied a leveller when Ogie, as so often, got in the way of a shot, using his face to divert the ball over the bar. Turner turned Kladi Lolos’ dipping effort over the bar as the hosts kept knocking at the door.

Jayden Clarke had a low strike saved for Gillingham before four minutes of added-on time were added on, which were seen out.

Crawley: Addai, Conroy, Kelly, Ransom, Wright, Orsi, Darcy, Telford (Lolos 68mins), Tsaroulla, Williams (Forster 86mins), Campbell (Henry 65mins). Subs not used: Ashby-Hammond, Mukena, Swyer, Khaleel.

Gillingham: Turner, Alexander, Malone, Ehmer, Ogie, S Williams (Dieng 81mins), J Williams (Clarke 58mins), Jefferies (McKenzie 74mins), Coleman, Nadesan (Lapslie 74mins), Nichols (Bonne 74mins). Subs not used: Morris, Masterson.

Referee: Ed Duckworth

Attendance: 4,310 (1,356 away)

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