Published: 13:30, 30 April 2017
A goalless draw at Northampton was enough for Gillingham to secure their League 1 safety.
Josh Wright had a first half penalty saved for the Gills and the visitors dominated after the break but couldn’t get a goal.
Gillingham needed a win to guarantee themselves a place in League 1 but with Port Vale’s also drawing 0-0 at Fleetwood, that was enough.
The Gills fans and players had a nervy wait at Sixfields, with their game finishing ahead of Vale’s at Fleetwood, before celebrating once the final whistle went up north in Fleetwood.
The Gills were up against a Northampton team managed by former boss Justin Edinburgh – sacked by the Gills in January.
Gills head coach Ady Pennock brought Stuart Nelson back in goal for the match while Mark Byrne overcame illness and a hamstring strain to make the XI. Rory Donnelly missed the game through club suspension.
Edinburgh declared Northampton a bigger club in the build-up to the game but gave no mention to the Gills in his programme notes. He refused to shake Pennock’s hand before kick-off.
Gillingham had a golden chance to take an early lead, when David Buchanan fouled Cody McDonald in the box. Josh Wright stepped up but keeper David Cornell palmed away the ninth minute spot-kick.
Jake Hessenthaler was also denied by the keeper, who got down well to tip his shot round the post. A more routine save was needed as he held onto Lee Martin’s curling 20-yard effort.
Northampton’s best chance came late in the half when Marc Richards got free of Max Ehmer at the far post, only to head wide from close-range.
A Gillingham win would mean they had no worries about relegation but the game remained on a knife edge going into the break.
Cody McDonald headed an early second half chance wide for the Gills, who started the better after the break. A block denied Lee Martin from close range before Ryan Jackson’s low shot was saved.
Gillingham and relegation rivals Port Vale both went into the final half hour of the season with their games tied at 0-0.
The Gills continued to have the chances at Sixfields, with Mark Byrne dragging a shot wide for the visitors. A number of corners also failed to do the trick, with Northampton defending them well.
There were big shouts for a second Gillingham penalty with 13 minutes left but neither the referee or linesman spotted Shaun McWilliams’ handball just inside the box.
McDonald twice slipped when in a good position for the Gills as they continued to press and fans continued to worry about what Vale were doing. A goalless draw - and a rare clean sheet – was enough for the Gills.
Northampton: Cornell, Moloney, Buchanan, Anderson, Diamond, Boateng (Anderson 65mins), Richards, Revell, McWilliams, Nyatanga, Taylor. Subs not used: Smith, McCourt, Beautyman, Phillips, Iaciofano, McDonald.
Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Martin, Ehmer, Oshilaja, Rehman, Byrne, Wright, Hessenthaler, McDonald, Parker. Subs not used: Holy, Wagstaff, Osadebe, Quigley, List, Muldoon, Cornick.
Attendance: 7,034 (1,054 away)