* Despite creating the better chances Wigan Athletic slipped to a narrow 1-0 defeat at the Priestfield Stadium and remain in the relegation zone.
* Play-off chasing Gillingham relied on their long ball game and their prolific striker Vadaine Oliver’s ninth goal in nine games proved decisive.
* Latics’ failure to be clinical proved costly as Jamie Proctor, Callum Lang and substitute Dan Gardner all wasted good opportunities.
* The hosts route one tactics made for an unpleasant watch but Latics were left frustrated and remain one point from safety.
* Gillingham move into the play-off places in sixth position in the table.
The takeover of Latics by the Phoenix 2021 consortium was completed yesterday and the team played their first game under the new ownership.
Leam Richardson made one change from Saturday’s draw at home to Ipswich Town with Jamie Proctor replacing Will Keane.
The Gills bombarded the Latics defence with high balls into the box and the hosts forced several early corners.
Latics struggled to get into their normal rhythm as the physicality of the hosts prevented them from getting their normal passing game going.
The visitors first chance came on 13 minutes when Tendayi Darikwa’s right wing cross found Lang and the striker’s shot was deflected into the path of the Gills keeper Jack Bonham.
Latics’ next opportunity came on 26 minutes when Curtis Tilt’s first time strike from Thelo Aasgaard’s cross flew narrowly over the angle of post and crossbar.
Soon afterwards Aasgaard’s diving header from Lee Evans free kick was saved by Bonham.
At the other end George Johnston’s poor back pass nearly resulted in the Gills taking the lead but Jamie Jones saved well from Oliver.
Lang then dragged his shot from the edge of the area wide of the target and the Gills Alexander MacDonald’s strike was easily saved by Jones.
The first half ended goal less but Latics had enjoyed the greater possession and were starting to look more of a threat as the half had progressed.
The second half continued in similar vein with the Gills launching long balls and utilising long throws and set pieces into the box.
The Boorish Gills manager Steve Evans was booked for berating the fourth official on 53 minutes. Evans’ constant harassment of officials over a number of years has been a disgrace and the football authorities really should deal with him more severely.
Latics continued to create the better chances with Darikwa’s cross from the right spilled by Bonham and Proctor volleyed the rebound over the crossbar.
Lang then turned well inside the box and drove his shot narrowly wide of the far post from a tight angle.
Lang was proving to be handful and his delicate chipped cross from the right found Proctor in a central position but the former Rotherham striker couldn’t get enough power in his header to trouble Bonham.
Latics’ top scorer Lang then did superbly to win the ball and dribble past several defenders before setting up Proctor who looked odds on to score but curled his effort over the crossbar from ten-yards out.
The Gills Steve Evans route one tactics are reminiscent of John Beck’s type of football when he managed Cambridge United and Preston North End in the 1990’s.
It’s not pleasant to watch and it will not bring the Gills long-term success but on this occasion it proved effective as they converted one of their few real opportunities.
The prolific Oliver rose high above Johnston and headed decisively past Jones from Ryan Jackson’s cross.
Joe Dodoo replaced Proctor on 76 minutes, Will Keane replaced Aasgaard on 78 minutes and Dan Gardner replaced Viv Solomon-Otabor on 80 minutes as Richardson looked to freshen up the attack.
Lang looped a header onto the crossbar and then Gardner wasted a great opportunity when he blazed over the crossbar from inside the box after being well set up by Keane.
The Gills substitute Dominic Samuel was lucky to escape with just a yellow card after he charged into Jones with his foot high on 85 minutes.
As Latics went in search of the equaliser Oliver nearly added to the Gills lead but his header was well pushed around the post by Jones.
Latics just couldn’t create another opportunity as the Gills ran down the clock making three substitutions in five minutes of added time.
It was a frustrating night for Latics whose performance deserved a least a point. Fine margins had decided the three points and Latics’ failure to be clinical in front of goal had proved to be the difference.
Tough games are coming up against promotion chasing teams and they will have to be at their best if they are to have any chance of escaping the drop.