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17:00 6th March 2010


Town met defeat at the hands of Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium this afternoon, with a goal in each half from Canadian international Simeon Jackson giving Mark Stimson's side the win.

The afternoon was made more disappointing by the first-half dismissal of loanee Nathan Eccleston, who received a straight red card for a poor challenge on right-back Stuart Lewis.

The game started in a scrappy fashion, but a poor challenge from Town 'keeper Alex Smithies was the first real flashpoint in the 4th minute. The custodian came out for a ball over the top from Gillingham that Neal Trotman should have dealt with and the young goalie ended up clattering into striker Simeon Jackson well outside the area.

BOOKING - This earned Alex his third yellow card of the season, but thankfully Antony Kay cleared the resulting free-kick.

This early incident seemed to spur the home side into action and two more half-chances followed in quick succession. First winger Andy Barcham drifted in off the touchline and forced Smithies to push away a snapshot on the turn before indecision between Peter Clarke and Trotman gifted striker Renee Howe a shooting chance that he hit straight at the Town 'keeper.

GOAL - It didn't matter soon afterwards as Town's slow start was punished by Gillingham top scorer Simeon Jackson. Home midfielder Adam Miller charged down Robbie Williams as he tried to clear and the ball dropped infield to the striker, who hit a great volley from 22 yards past Smithies' left side and into the far corner inside the sixth minute.

The game settled down after the goal, with Town regaining their composure. However, it was the Gills who launched the next attack of note in the 17th minute. A ball from left-back Nutter released Barcham down the flank who skipped past the sliding challenge of Tom Clarke as he entered the area, but his shot was bravely headed away by Peter Clarke.

Town had their first half chance of the game two minutes later after right-back Clarke had forced a corner. Pilkington took the in-swinging delivery and landed the ball at the near post where Eccleston had made a clever run, but his first time effort was blocked by a defender who then cleared to safety.

BOOKING - Jordan Rhodes joined his teammate Smithies in the referee's book in the 20th minute after challenging home goalkeeper Alan Julian for a 50-50 ball and arriving slightly late.

RED CARD - Nathan Eccleston was shown a straight red card in the 26th minute for a two-footed challenge on right-back Stuart Lewis right in front of the benches. The winger initially did well to muscle Adam Miller off the ball, but when it ran loose both feet left the floor as he lunged for the ball and the referee had no hesitation in showing the red card.

Lee Clark had to change the team's shape with his side down to ten men; Anthony Pilkington pushed infield to form a central midfield three alongside Kay and Drinkwater, effectively matching up the home side in midfield.

Gillingham were back on the attack on the stroke of 29 minutes when midfielder Jackman whipped a great free-kick into Town's area from the left flank; the ball was met by defender Richards, but his powerful header arrowed straight into the waiting arms of Smithies.

Barcham sent a speculative shot miles wide of the near post soon afterwards after the home side broke down the pitch following a Town corner.

Town's most likely route to goal looked to be through set-pieces, where the aerial prowess of Peter Clarke was causing the home side a few problems. However, the best piece of play from open play came courtesy of Pilkington in the 36th minute; he collected a knock-down before breezing past Curtis Weston on the left flank and sending a low cross into the area, where defender Richards was grateful to see his touch under pressure run just outside his 'keeper's right-hand post.

The Terriers were on top as the half drew to a close and only the chest of centre-back Richards prevented Lee Novak from equalising in the 39th minute. A quick throw in taken by Williams released Pilkington down the left and his lobbed cross fell to the feet of the former Gateshead man at the near post, but his volley hit the defender before Kay drove the rebound wide with his weaker left foot.

Strangely Town were a far better side since they dropped to ten men; the forward runs of Pilkington and Drinkwater from midfield were causing the home side all kinds of problems. Despite being down to ten men and trailing by a goal, there was cause for optimism for the away side.

BOOKING - Robbie Williams entered the book in first half added time after arriving slightly late into an aerial challenge with Miller on the touchline.


GOAL - Town fell two behind just 22 seconds into the second-half when Simeon Jackson netted his second of the game. The speedy Canadian managed to latch onto Howe's knock-down in behind Robbie Williams before outpacing the left-back and sliding the ball past the onrushing Alex Smithies to extend his side's lead.

The Terriers tried to fight back a minute later when Rhodes flicked Williams' long free-kick into the path of Peter Clarke, but his overhead kick drifted wide of Alan Julian's left-hand post.

The Gills continued to attack thereafter and Howe was unlucky to see his back post header from Jackson's left wing cross fall just wide of Smithies' left-hand post.

BOOKING - Gillingham right-back Stuart Lewis was booked in the 54th minute for a trip on Jordan Rhodes down the left touchline.

SUB - Lee Clark made his first substitution in the same minute, with Michael Collins replacing Antony Kay.

Robbie Williams' low, near post corner delivered moments after the substitution totally evaded near post defender Barcham, who had a massive swing at the ball, but he was bailed out by a teammate on the line as Neal Trotman looked to pounce.

Smithies came to the rescue in the 59th minute when Howe broke through the Town defence with the ball, rushing from his line to collect the ball bravely at the striker's feet after a slightly heavy touch.

SUB - Gary Roberts replaced Anthony Pilkington in Town's second change in the 61st minute.

Gills 'keeper Alan Julian was in action in the 64th minute, beating away Drinkwater's pacey free-kick delivered into the area after Rhodes had been tripped by Richards on the flank.

Town had a good chance to get back into the game just minutes later after a good passage of play. Substitute Collins, who had done well since entering the field of play, found Roberts on the left flank; his clever slide-rule pass found Lee Novak in the area, who had managed to get goal side of centre-back Richards, but his snapshot was smothered well by 'keeper Julian.

SUB - Gillingham made their first change in the 73rd minute, with Dennis Oli replacing Renee Howe.

SUB - Clark made Town's third substitution in the next minute, with Theo Robinson replacing Robbie Williams. This change saw Town move to three at the back, with Tom Clarke joining namesake Peter and Neal Trotman infield, where Robinson formed a three with Novak and Rhodes in attack.

BOOKING - Peter Clarke was booked for handball two minutes later after misjudging a bit of chest control.

BOOKING - Home midfielder Curtis Weston became the latest player to see yellow after a foul on Gary Roberts on the right touchline.

Jordan Rhodes had the ball in the net from the resulting free-kick, but the referee had already blown his whistle as Trotman had been judged to have pushed a defender in the back from the original challenge.

Alex Smithies kept the scoreline down to 2-0 soon afterwards with a brilliant double save; first he pushed Jackson's shot into the air after he had been set free by substitute Oli's pass before recovering to scoop the ball away as it threatened to bounce over the line.

Gary Roberts came the closest of any Town player to scoring in the 80th minute, but his shot on the turn right on the edge of the Gillingham box struck the outside of the right-hand post with the goalkeeper beaten.

Former Rushden man Jackson blazed over from an acute angle with three minutes of the game remaining before substitute Theo Robinson tested Julian fully with a fiercely struck 20-yard snapshot that the goalkeeper did well to turn around the post.

BOOKING - Danny Drinkwater was booked for dissent moments later.

Town forced a succession of corners in the four minutes of added time at the end of the game, but could not find a breakthrough.

Town's Team (4-4-2):

Alex Smithies; Robbie Williams (Theo Robinson 74), Peter Clarke (c), Neal Trotman, Tom Clarke; Nathan Eccleston, Danny Drinkwater, Antony Kay (Michael Collins 54), Anthony Pilkington (Gary Roberts 61); Jordan Rhodes, Lee Novak

Unused Subs: Simon Eastwood, Nathan Clarke, James Berrett, Krystian Pearce

Town Bookings: Alex Smithies (4), Jordan Rhodes (20), Robbie Williams (45), Peter Clarke (76), Danny Drinkwater (88)

Town Red Card: Nathan Eccleston (26)

Gillingham Bookings: Stuart Lewis (54), Curtis Weston (77)

Attendance: 5,388

Visitors: 415

    Data provided by Press Association


    Town was the first club to win three successive league titles in 1926. Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have matched this feat.