Published: 22:00, 27 November 2018
| Updated: 09:31, 28 November 2018
A performance of contrasting styles thrilled Gillingham boss Steve Lovell.
His side went 2-0 up before Callum Reilly’s red card left them a man down and facing a barrage late on.
Bristol Rovers got one back but the Gills survived another three minutes of normal time and then eight more additional minutes before they could breathe a sigh of relief.
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“It was magnificent,” said Lovell..
“That was most probably the best win of the year, because of the way we won it, with the football we played first half and the start of the second half and the way we dug in.
"There were two different styles and we coped very well. In the first half we played some brilliant football, passed the ball around and kept it.
“Callum got a great goal to make it 2-0 and then got sent off, then it was backs against the wall for half an hour.
“The boys dug in and all we could do was get people behind the ball and stop Bristol from scoring. They got one from a free-kick, a great goal, they hit the post and we had a bit of fortune which I think we deserved over the 90 minutes because of the way we worked hard.
“The boys were out on their feet and it’s a massive three points for us.
“It was a great display by everybody for different reasons, the first half because of the way that we played and second half the way we dug in and really had to dig deep defensively to stop them equalising. It was an excellent three points.”
The Gills were throwing their bodies infront of shots and Max Ehmer diverted one goalbound effort wide with 98 minutes on the clock.
“That just summed up the spirit of the boys,” said the manager.
“I am just disappointed that we conceded because form open play we were fine but it was a great finish from the free-kick.”
Rovers were guilty of missing several good chances but when they did come close, Gills keeper Tomas Holy was back to his best, making great blocks to deny his own player Bradley Garmston and then former Gill Stefan Payne.
“Bradley Garmston has to score that hasn’t he, really?” joked Lovell.
“Tomas made a couple of good saves, some important ones and that will be a boost for him.”
It proved to be a bitter-sweet night for Reilly, send off for a high challenge just 11 minutes after his 25 yard effort put the Gills two up.
“He was disappointed afterwards,” said the manager, speaking before reviewing the incident himself.
“But it was his goal that won us the game. Those three games (suspended) will soon go by and it will give him a chance to get himself a little bit fitter.
“He has been out a while and he can concentrate on getting himself really fit. I thought he did well when he was on and scored a good goal.”
Read more on the Gills in this Thursday's Medway Messenger newspaper