Gillingham ended Crewe Alexandra's 10-game unbeaten run on Tuesday evening with a resounding 4-0 win at Priestfield.
First-half strikes from Jordan Graham, Oliver Lee and Kyle Dempsey were backed up in the second-period by Lee's second of the game to complete a comfortable victory for the Gills, despite Chris Porter's late consolation.
Story of the match
After a flying start from Crewe Jack Tucker had to be alert to block an effort from Oliver Finney inside the area within seconds of the first whistle – a golden chance for the visitors, but Tucker did well to save his team.
Finney was in again down the left moments later, but Tucker again blocked. Gillingham then almost caught Crewe unaware with the team taking a drink after a head injury, but the Tractor Boys recovered well.
Despite Crewe’s fast start, it was Gillingham who took the lead on 11 minutes. Gills wide man Jordan Graham was up against some young, inexperienced fullbacks in Travis Johnson and Rio Adebisi all game, and had some early joy. After going past Johnson, Graham was tripped by Johnson in the area – referee Alan Young didn’t think twice before pointing to the spot, and Graham send goalkeeper Dave Richards the wrong way to give his side the lead.
Gillingham continued to push as the game progressed and manager Steve Evans remained extremely vocal on the touchline, regularly asking his players to press and squeeze Crewe as the visitors looked to manoeuvre the ball man to man.
Finney fired wide as Crewe tried to work their way back into the game, and Kyle Dempsey almost doubled his side’s lead on half an hour with a smart header, but for a good save from Richards.
Vadaine Oliver missed a header of his own after, before a smart cross from Crewe’ left went begging, but Gillingham’s lead was soon doubled thanks to Oliver Lee.
With Gillingham still pressing high, Graham intercepted a pass and was played back in by Dempsey. Graham crossed, and Lee took a touch past his defender in the box before slotting him to give his team a two-goal cushion.
It was three just before half-time. As the fourth official raised his board for three minutes, Crewe were once again caught out trying to play out from the back. A short pass was intercepted, and home captain Kyle Dempsey found himself with the ball at his feet inside the box. He didn’t think twice before slotting past Richards, and Gillingham were in dreamland going into the break.
Crewe knew they had to score early and almost did on 52 minutes. An effort from the left was blocked by Jack Bonham in the Gills goal, and the ball fell to Owen Dale just yards from goal, but the wide man could only hammer the ball high into the stands.
Gillingham had a fourth on 62 minutes. A Ryan Jackson long throw caused problems in the box, and a flick on was met by Oliver Lee, who headed past Richards for his second of the game.
Vadaine Oliver was denied a fifth for the Gills when the linesman adjudged he had fouled his man, and Chris Porter pulled one back going into the final ten minutes, beating his man at the near post to head a consolation.
Crewe did push forward more as the game came to an end, Oliver Finney missing perhaps their best chance, but the damage was done in the first-half, and the full-time whistle was soon blown by Alan Young to confirm the Gills' victory.
Takeaways from the match
The press beats the pass
Crewe, as they almost always do, tried to play out from the back here and has absolutely no luck. Gillingham regularly pressed their opponents high and reaped the rewards, often forcing Crewe into errors and scoring off them.
Steve Evans 1-0 Dave Artell.
Gills fans know how good Jordan Graham is, and he was back at his very best again here. Playing wide with a license to stay forward, Graham caused his inexperienced fullbacks plenty of problems all evening.
He was fouled for the first goal before scoring the resulting penalty himself and picked up an assist for the second. When he in this kind of form, there are few that can deal with him.
Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, Cundy, Tucker, Ogilvie, Slattery, O’Connor, Graham (MacDonald 90), Lee (O'Keefe 90), Dempsey, Oliver (Akinde 88).
Subs not used: McKenzie, Willock, Johnson.
Crewe: Richards, Johnson, Lancashire, Beckles, Adebisi, Lowery (Murphy 63), Wintle (Evans 75), Finney, Dale (Walker 63), Porter, Kirk (Griffiths 79).
Subs not used: Jaaskaleinen, Mandron, Sass-Davies.