Gillingham-Dagenham & Redbridge: Late Show at Priestfield Boosts Promotion Hopes

Daniel GoochAnalyst IApril 13, 2009

Gillingham left it late to win their penultimate home game this season, beating Dagenham and Redbridge 2-1 at the KRBS Priestfield Stadium.

Your usual Gillingham reporter, Yoosof Farah, was unable to attend this match so I stepped into his place, but not his seat (as I was in the VIP area).

The Gills took control in the first few minutes, as they had several shots missed and saved by the Dagenham and Redbridge goalkeeper before most people had taken their seats.

The home side made the better start, when John Nutter's (great name) shot was saved and parried into the path Mark McCammon, who 'slotted' the ball into the corner of the net.

I put ' ' marks around "slotted", as it was not as easy as that. Actually it was, but McCammon just made it look hard. It bounced right in front of him, but he still acted like a schoolboy playing in the playground, as he just hit it with whatever part of his body he could.

Dagenham then had a clear opportunity seconds later. The ball was back passed to Gills keeper Simon Royce, whose clearance was blocked by Paul Benson. His shot then rolled agonisingly wide of the post to the amusement of the home fans behind the goal in the Kop of Kent, a.k.a the Rainham End.

Gillingham survived another scare a few minutes later in nearly the same manner. It was yet another backpass from Garry Richards to the keeper, who kicked it straight back into the path of D&R striker P. Benson... again. This time he did not get a shot in as the ball rebounded of him and straight back into Royce's hands.

Towards the end of the first half Gillingham were on the offensive and caused a fine save from Roberts down to his left.

Unfortunately, Dagenham also pressed forward towards the 45 minute mark and were rewarded for their persistence with an equaliser. Ben Stevens was able to get into space in the penalty area and slid the ball across the 6-yard box into the path of Sam Saunders' flying leg.

Half-time only made the fans think of previous games. Starting well, only to lose in the end. Not this time. The fans were cheering and were optimistic about the game, and so they should be. They are watching real football. Real football, being played, really badly.

Back to the game and the second half.

The first shot on target was by my least favourite player, Mark McCammon. He headed a cross from Nutter towards the net only for the keeper to make an easy save.

Around the 60-minute mark yet another Nutter cross found the head of McCammon and yet again it was saved. Curtis Weston then came up for the rebound only to hit it into the side netting.

The game hotted up in the last 10 minutes as (finally) McCammon was substituted by Mark Bentley, who nearly made an instant impact. He was able to head a Nutter cross across the face of goal, but found no blue shirts.

In the 85th minute Bentley's pass found Dennis Oli in yards of space, with Oli feeding the ball to Simeon Jackson, but the Canadian's low drive was well saved by Roberts.

With 88 minutes gone, the hosts were agonisingly close to the final whistle and all but condemned to that dismal single point.

However, then came the moment we were all waiting for. John Nutter once again crossed the ball into the opponents box, and Dennis Oli rose above everyone else to head the ball into the net.

In the process, the Daggers' keeper received a blow to the head and had to be taken off.

The Gills managed to hold on in the five minutes of injury time to record a vital win and all three points.

Gillingham lie sixth in the League Two table, five points ahead of Chesterfield in seventh, and only a single point behind Rochdale in fifth, with Exeter City in second only three points ahead of the Dale.

The Gills need to make the most of their last three games to ensure they stay in the play-off places, and maintain the chance of moving up into those automatic promotion places.