Published: 16:40, 19 April 2019
| Updated: 20:33, 19 April 2019
Gillingham came good in the end to see off Plymouth and with it their relegation troubles.
Plymouth edged ahead with a first half goal from Freddie Ladapo but a quickfire double in the second half turned the match on its head.
Regan Charles-Cook got the Gills level and Mark Byrne put them ahead, with both goals coming in a three-minute spell, before Brandon Hanlan added a stoppage-time third.
Victory puts the Gills on 51 points - surely enough to avoid any dramas now with three games remaining.
Gillingham needed to put in a better showing than they did last time out, limping to a 2-0 defeat at home to Shrewsbury, but they started slowly.
Their previous performance had been labelled as unacceptable by Gills chairman Paul Scally in his pre-match programme notes.
Manager Steve Lovell said after that game he was confident it was a one-off and stuck by his team, making just one enforced change as Charles-Cook replaced Graham Burke, after the on-loan Preston forward developed an infected foot.
History was on the Gills’ side, beating Plymouth in the previous eight games at Priestfield, including a 5-2 win over them at the end of last season.
Plymouth, aiming to end a 38-year wait for a win at Priestfield, matched up to Gills’ diamond formation and the two teams spent some time sussing each other out.
The home fans were left short-changed again following a poor 45 minutes from the Gills, who didn’t register a shot on target in the opening half.
Plymouth went into the break a goal ahead, scored by Ladapo after 25 minutes. It was an avoidable goal, made after Tomas Holy’s ball out of goal came at Byrne and he had to time to control before being dispossessed by Graham Carey. The ball ran for the visiting striker, who still had a lot to do as he got the better of Max Ehmer and slotted home.
Either side of the goal had come Gills’ best chances. Connor Ogilvie fired wide from a corner and Billy Bingham was unable to dig out a decent shot after Brandon Hanlan had crossed low into the box.
Graham Carey put a shot wide for Plymouth but goal chances were scarce and the Gills went off at the break with a number of fans voicing their frustrations.
Lovell made a double change at the break in a bid to change their fortunes. Tom Eaves and Billy Bingham made way for Tahvon Campbell and Elliott List.
Straight away List won the Gills a corner, which was cleared, and had a shot blocked as he went for the spectacular in a crowded box. List made a huge difference with a fired up performance from the bench.
If the start of the first half lacked action, the second made up for it, with Ladapo straight down the other end with a shot that went just wide. Ryan Edwards went close moments later as the Gills struggled to get the ball clear from a corner.
List provided the assist for Gills’ equaliser, crossing for Charles-Cook who was well placed to turn the ball home from infront of goal with 56 minutes played.
It had taken a while for the Gills to come to life, taking care of the ball much better, and a second goal came soon after as Luke O’Neill’s corner was headed in by Byrne.
Ehmer headed another corner wide for the Gills as they maintained their momentum and O’Neill went close with a driven effort across goal.
A terrible miss from Antoni Sarcevic kept Gills’ lead intact, firing wide with plenty to aim at after being picked out in space by Ruben Lameiras.
Holy was kept busy as Gills’ momentum gradually subsided, Lloyd Jones going close from a corner and a few other incidents that kept the game on a knife-edge.
Victory was sealed when Niall Canavan's pass was cut out by Byrne and Hanlan ran onto the ball before stroking it past keeper Kyle Letheren.
Gillingham: Holy, O’Neill, Fuller, Ogilvie, Ehmer, Bingham (List 46mins), Byrne, Parrett, Charles-Cook (Rees 73mins), Eaves (Campbell 46mins), Hanlan. Subs not used: Garmston, Oldaker, Lacey, Hadler.
Plymouth: Letheren, Sawyer, Edwards, Ness, Sarcevic (Taylor 77mins), Fox, Carey, Lameiras, Ladapo, Jones, Smith-Brown (Canavan 77mins). Subs not used: Macey, Songo’o, Anderson, Moore, Fletcher.
Attendance: 5,987 (836 away)
More by this authorLuke Cawdell