Chesterfield hit back after losing a two goal lead as Jimmy Ryan hit a belter on 69 to earn the spirited side a tremendous win.
Spireites travelled to Kent without suspended pair Sam Morsy and Dan Jones whilst Dan Gardner (knee) picked up an injury in the Bantams game so has not travelled, neither has long term groin victim Drew Talbot, who’s set to return to full training in a week or two.
Top scorer Eoin Doyle has been sitting out training this week with a minor hamstring strain and he’s not risked from the start.
Spireites, bedecked in a festive looking all red kit, won the toss and elected to kick towards their small band of intrepid travelling fans. Clucas started at left back with Humphreys in front of him and Roberts pushing up alongside Gnanduillet in what looked like a 4-4-1-1 formation.
Lee punched away a curling Doughty free kick after a foul on Egan and soon afterwards Martin was fouled but Hessenthaler’s free-kick was too deep and it flew out for a goal kick.
Legge headed a Darikwa cross out for the game’s first corner and Roberts’ delivery found Gnanduillet and his header was blocked, at full stretch, on the line by Doughty.
Dack was spoken to after a foul on Humphreys but Ehmer headed the free-kick clear. Lee had to save an angled effort from Loft from Gills most dangerous break in the opening ten. Dickenson’s teasing cross just eluded Dack as Gills started to look more dangerous.
Ryan hit high after a powerful run and Hessenthaler, for the second time, over-hit a free-kick from the left as the game entered a lull.
The threadbare Spireites took the lead on 23. Ryan passed left to CLUCAS who’s angled delivery clipped a defender to divert it beyond Nelson.
Egan had a shot blocked as the home side looked to find a way through a solid looking Spireites back line, protected by Hird just in front.
Evatt fouled Norris and the set play earned a corner, Gills first, Ehmer got a contact on it but headed well wide.
Roberts forced Nelson to kick into touch but Spireites couldn’t conjure up an opening from the throw. Dack escaped a booking for yet another foul, Darikwa this time the player he shoved, as the visitors continued to defend well, though their forays forwards were becoming fewer.
Nelson caught an on target half volley from Humphreys whilst an under-hit pass from Ryan led to Raglan having to intervene to clear. Gills won a corner, Legge’s far pot header flew a smidgeon over the bar.
Dack forced Lee to save from range as Gillingham pushed forwards but without too much penetration.
Lee’s kick was flicked on by Gnanduillet for Roberts but he was unable to work his magic to get beyond Ehmer when an opportunity looked on. Gnanduillet then robbed Martin and Roberts was all alone in the middle but the delivery in was just too far forward for Roberts, so two great chances for Spireites within two minutes of the restart went begging.
Hird’s chest forward found Ryan but his shot lacked power and was easy for Nelson. Gnanduillet won a corner as Spireites dominated, Boco delivered from the left but Hird was unable to take advantage, he did appeal, on his own, for hands as he hit the ball goalwards.
McDonald replaced Dickenson and McGlashan came on for Dack and Chesterfield immediately took advantage of the change. Boco carved open some space, fed DARIKWA on the right of the box and the full-back drilled in a low effort that, like the first goal, took a deflection to make it two for Paul Cook’s men on 54.
Leon Legge was the man who deflected the shot but he’ll be happy to lose any potential ‘own goal’ tag.
Gills quickly pulled a goal back when sub McDONALD headed home from 15 yards as the mist off the Medway began to roll over the stand roof.
Chesterfield’s hearts were broken when Loft delivered from the left and right back EGAN stooped to head beyond Lee to make it two in three minutes for the hosts on 62.
The 6841 crowd, all bar 249 Gillingham fans, were on the edge of their seats as McGlashan began to set the game alight with runs galore though Gnanduillet almost nipped in beyond Legge.
Gnanduillet and then Roberts had efforts blocked and the second block fell for RYAN on the box-edge and his half-volley, a crackerjack, beat Nelson to restore the visitor’s lead. Roberts burst through and Ehmer was lucky only to see yellow as the Chesterfield man was set to run clear.
Chesterfield won a corner and Humphreys high effort went just wide.
Kedwell replaced Norris for the hosts and that saw Spireites moved Hird back as a third central defender.
Roberts and Darikwa combined well but the full backs cross just eluded Gnanduillet. Doughty shoved over Roberts as he broke forwards as Spireites retained the initiative, Roberts took the free-kick himself and it flew just wide.
Gnanduillet’s cross was hacked away by Legge as Spireites resolve looked solid. Humphreys shot wide after Darikwa’s good play as Chesterfield ended strongly though McDonald blazed a great chance wide with the game’s final touch.
Chesterfield held on for only their second ever win in 12 attempts against Peter Taylor-managed sides.
Gillingham: Nelson, Martin, Egan, Ehmer, Legge, Loft, Hessenthaler, Norris, Doughty, Dack, Dickenson. Subs: Bywater, Kedwell, McDonald, McGlashan, Lennon, Linganzi, Hoyte.
Chesterfield: Lee, Darikwa, Evatt, Raglan, Humphreys, Hird, Ryan, Boco, Roberts, Clucas, Gnanduillet. Subs: Wright, O’Shea, Ariyibi, Doyle.
Ref: Chris Sarginson (Staffs)