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Gillingham striker Cody McDonald reacted to being dropped by hitting the winner against Leyton Orient

Cody McDonald Picture: Barry Goodwin
Cody McDonald Picture: Barry Goodwin

Peter Taylor’s decision to drop Cody McDonald paid off.

The striker started on the bench for Gills’ crucial game against Leyton Orient.

And there was nobody happier than Taylor to see the striker pop up with a 98 minute winner.

Taylor said: “It was fantastic and a lovely feeling to get three points against a team who still have good players from last year, even though they are down there with us.

“Everything that could have happened did happen but the most important thing was that we showed fantastic character.

“When I told Cody on Friday he wasn’t going to play he said, ‘you rested me last year for three matches and it did me the world of good’. He doesn’t want to be left out for three matches again and so we will see.

“He trained first class this week and it has done him good. We went to Crawley and won without him and it makes everyone realise that nobody is a guarantee.

“He is a good lad and I am so, so pleased he has come off the bench and he has got the goal.

“I am really pleased for Cody. He has come back in and hopefully he can score a few more.”

In a crazy end to the game, the Gills looked to have thrown away the win after Orient levelled in injury-time, to cancel out the 2-1 lead.

Leon Legge had scored twice to turn around a one goal deficit. But the Gills weren’t to be denied with McDonald’s late effort.

“The nice thing is that the supporters would have really enjoyed it,” said Taylor.

“It was an exciting game. The neutrals would have enjoyed it but our supporters would have absolutely loved it. I know Leyton Orient are not high in the division but they still have a lot of good players.”

All three of Gillingham’s goal came from set-pieces. Legge headed in two free-kicks from Jake Hessenthaler and McDonald turned home a corner.

“The set pieces were important and if Legge is positive at them then he takes some handling,” said the manager.

“I felt as though his movement was pretty good and, with determination, he was getting the first touch and he was causing them problems.”

The early part of the game hinged on two penalties. Danny Kedwell had his sixth minute effort saved and Orient scored theirs early in the second half.

“I didn’t think it was a good penalty,” said Taylor, on Kedwell’s effort.

And on the one conceded: “We were a little disappointed because we weren’t convinced it was one. It was given and we couldn’t do anything to change it.

“All of a sudden we have to fight again and thankfully we did.”

But for the second time in two games the Gills had to do it with 10 men, after Michael Doughty was sent off for two bookings.

“It was a really silly second yellow,” said the manager.

“The first yellow was a yellow, he should have stood up and been patient.

“I know what he tried to do for the second, he did half throw it to their player, but I think ‘just leave the ball alone, it’s their free-kick, let them get on with it’. Unfortunately we are punished again. We are not a dirty side but we keep getting red card.”

Despite the loss of a player and the late equaliser the Gills still won.

“I have to give the players so much credit,”

“There are lots of things that were good, then they were bad, but we bounced back and that’s where it was a really enjoyable football match and result.”

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