Whelpdale wins it for Gills

Chris Whelpdale's second-minute volley handed Gillingham a hard-fought 1-0 win at promotion rivals Southend on New Year's Day.

Last Updated: 01/01/13 at 19:17

Whelpdale: Match-winning strike

Whelpdale: Match-winning strike

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Whelpdale latched on to a deep free-kick from Joe Martin and, with Shrimpers goalkeeper Paul Smith rooted to his goal-line, he cushioned the ball home from close range.

The Gills came close to doubling their lead when a looping effort from Myles Weston was tipped to safety by Smith, who also did well to keep out a 12-yard shot from former United man Adam Barrett.

However, Southend improved in the second half and almost levelled in the 58th minute when a stunning 30-yard shot from Kevan Hurst was impressively tipped over the crossbar by Stuart Nelson.

The visitors had a huge let off a minute later when Barry Corr volleyed wide of an open goal from inside the six-yard box.

But, having weathered the storm, Gillingham almost added a second when Weston fired against the foot of the right post from 12 yards.

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