Published: 21:49, 18 February 2020
| Updated: 07:38, 19 February 2020
A second-half goal from Connor Ogilvie earned Gillingham a hard-fought victory at Southend on Tuesday night.
It was the Shrimpers who had shaded an uneventful first half but Ogilvie came up with the all-important goal to extend Gills' unbeaten run in League 1 to 14 games.
The hosts were first to threaten on six minutes as Terrell Egbri crossed from the right but Gillingham skipper Max Ehmer did well to hook clear under pressure.
Five minutes later, it was Brandon Hanlan’s turn to attack down the right in impressive fashion for the visitors before finding Mikel Mandron who drifted out wide. He then attempted to find a team-mate with a low cross but the danger was cleared by the home defence.
Left-back Ogilvie became the first Gills man to go into the book with 18 minutes played. A quickly-taken long free-kick by Sam Manton set Charlie Kelman free and he was adjudged to have been fouled just inside the home team’s half as forward Kelman attempted to break through on goal. The Southend fans appealed for a red card but Ogilvie was only shown a yellow card by referee Trevor Kettle.
It was the Shrimpers who were looking the more likely to break the deadlock and they twice went close through two Stephen McLaughlin free-kicks in quick succession before the half-hour mark.
The first fizzed inches wide of Jack Bonham’s left-hand post, while former Brentford shot-stopper Bonham was equal to McLaughlin’s second set-piece, from around 25 yards out.
On 36 minutes, midfielder Matty Willock whipped a free-kick into a dangerous area for Gillingham's players to attack but Shrimpers keeper Harry Seaden did well to punch the ball away from danger, as the sides went in level pegging after an uneventful first period.
Gills boss Steve Evans introduced Jordan Graham for Mandron at the break and the change almost had an immediate impact as the away side created a glorious opportunity two minutes after the restart.
A Tom O'Connor corner was met by Ogilvie, however he powered his free header wide from inside the six-yard box.
The hosts went close in the 56th minute when a long ball out of defence found Kelman. He appeared to be outnumbered by Gillingham defenders but, nevertheless, the 18-year-old managed to get an effort away which forced a fingertip save from Bonham.
Midway through the second period, the Gills took the lead when Ogilvie headed home Graham's right-wing delivery from a matter of yards out.
The visitors came close to doubling their advantage 20 minutes from time, only for Hanlan to head O’Connor’s corner over the bar.
With less than 30 seconds of normal time left, Southend missed a golden opportunity to level as a long ball found its way through to substitute Matt Rush and he fired inches wide of Bonham's right-hand post.
The result leaves the Gills only four points off the play-offs, albeit having played two matches more than sixth-placed Portsmouth, while Southend remain in 23rd.
Southend: Seaden, Bwomono, Milligan, Dieng, McLaughlin, Mantom, Kelman, Kypriano (Shaughnessy 75mins), Clifford, Egbri (Rush 85mins), Mitchell-Nelson. Subs not used: Taylor, Klass, Barratt, Hutchinson, Kinali.
Gillingham: Bonham, Fuller, Ehmer, Ogilvie, Tucker, O’Connor, Willock (Lee 62mins), Roberts (Charles-Cook 90mins), Hanlan, Akinde, Mandron (Graham 46mins). Subs not used: Walsh, Woods, Pringle, Jones.
Attendance: 6,021 (877 away fans).
More by this authorThomas Reeves