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Portsmouth 3 Gillingham 1: Ronan Curtis (2) and Clark Robertson score for Pompey while Ryan Jackson nets for Gills; Manager Neil Harris sent off by referee Darren Drysdale for dissent

Gillingham manager Neil Harris was sent off after questioning the referee’s time-keeping as his side conceded a crucial second at Portsmouth.

Slow-starting Gills were behind to Ronan Curtis’ fourth minute strike before levelling through Ryan Jackson. Curtis popped up again just before the break, with additional time played by the referee to the anger of Harris, which led to his dismissal. Pompey captain Clark Robertson made it 3-1 from a corner in the second half.

Gillingham keeper Aaron Chapman as they concede a second Picture: KPI
Gillingham keeper Aaron Chapman as they concede a second Picture: KPI

Defeat at Portsmouth and a draw for Fleetwood - who scored late on at home to Wimbledon - leaves the Gills back in the bottom four ahead of the final weekend. Gillingham's home game against Rotherham United next Saturday is now must-win to stand a chance of surviving.

Gillingham were hit with a blow before the weekend after failing to overturn Charlie Kelman’s red card but they did manage to get skipper Stuart O’Keefe on the pitch despite his ongoing injury issues.

Portsmouth were already too far adrift of the play-offs to catch up in the last few games but the hosts were saying the right things pre-match about finishing the season strongly and with their American owners there to watch, there was an expectation to perform.

Portsmouth certainly had the better of the early stages, knocking the ball around after Curtis had opened the scoring. A run down the right flank from Michael Harness and a one-two ended with his low cross and a finish into the roof of the net from Curtis in the fourth minute.

Gillingham were reliant on Jackson’s throw to get them inside the Pompey box but time and again they got it clear. But as the visitors grew into the game, it was Jackson who popped up with a lovely finish to level the game with half an hour gone. He ran onto Ben Reeves’ cross and sent a cushioned effort into the net unopposed.

Ryan Jackson in action for Gillingham against Portsmouth Picture: KPI
Ryan Jackson in action for Gillingham against Portsmouth Picture: KPI

There were groans coming from the home fans as the half progressed and Gills continued to look more settled.

But that all changed in a flash. The fourth official signalled for an extra minute to be played at the end of the half but referee Drysdale managed to find another 25 seconds from somewhere, which allowed Curtis to score a second. Jackson had misjudged the cross from Sean Raggett and the Portsmouth forward found the bottom corner with a composed finish.

The Gills were livid at the extra time added on, as well as a potential offside, leading to Harris’ dismissal, as he questioned Mr Drysdale’s decision. The official also dished out another yellow to the goalkeeper coach Deren Ibrahim as the half ended in chaos.

Players went off at the end, with Max Ehmer and Stuart O’Keefe, along with Ibrahim, all having a word with the referee before they went in at the break.

Gillingham were 3-1 down with 10 minutes of the second half played, Robertson powering home a header from Michael Jacobs’ corner kick.

Jack Tucker keeps an eye on his man Picture: KPI
Jack Tucker keeps an eye on his man Picture: KPI

With just over an hour gone the Gills made a change, reverting to a four-man defence as young striker Tom Dickson-Peters replaced David Tutonda.

Portsmouth continued to boss the match, despite the Gills changes. Space was opening up for the hosts and Gills keeper Aaron Chapman had to save from Joe Morrell and George Hirst late on.

The match was delayed for a couple of minutes after a young child sat himself on the pitch and starting rolling around. With the stewards unwilling to act, it took a while for a responsible adult to remove him.

Gillingham pressed in the last few moments of the game but were left frustrated.

Chapman denied Hayden Carter with Portsmouth's last meaningful chance in stoppage-time while Gillingham's Ben Thompson was denied by home keeper Gavin Bazunu.

Portsmouth: Bazunu, Carter, Raggett, Robertson, Ogilvie (Romeo 78mins), Thompson (Mingi 74mins), Morrell, Harness (O’Brien 89mins), Curtis, Jacobs, Hirst. Subs not used: Webber, Williams, Tunnicliffe, Walker.

Gillingham: Chapman, Jackson, Tutonda (Dickson-Peter 64mins), Ehmer, Tucker, Masterson, O’Keefe (Phillips 46mins), Thompson, Lee, Reeves, Oliver. Subs not used: Dahlberg, Sithole, Lintott, Maghoma, Chambers.

Referee: Darren Drysdale

Attendance: 15,540 (1,192 away)

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