Manager Steve Evans says Gillingham fans can begin to dream of promotion after Connor Ogilvie’s late strike gave them a 1-0 win over 10-man Rochdale.
The win moved the Gills within striking distance of the play-offs, a remarkable feat considering their budget which Evans claims is the lowest in Sky Bet League One.
And while Evans admitted his team were not at their best, he was thrilled to see them dig deep and take all three points four minutes from time.
He said: “We factually have the bottom budget in this league. That doesn’t mean you can’t build a successful team. All we can do is work hard and allow our supporters to enjoy Christmas. The win allows them to dream a bit.
“We were not at our best for the first hour. For 55 minutes it was a stodgy game. Then suddenly we had an influx of chances.
“If the game had finished 0-0 I think even their manager may have felt for us a little bit. We hit the post a couple of times, we hit the bar, we had a penalty that wasn’t given – on another day we could have scored quite a few.”
Rochdale finished with 10 men after MJ Williams was dismissed for two late yellow cards, with Evans unhappy with the Rochdale man.
He added: “I don’t know what the referee sent him off for, if it’s two yellows or one red. But the first challenge it’s get-off-the-pitch terrible, then he goes after Connor [Ogilvie]. Look, it’s not like that boy, he’s just lost his head, but that challenge doesn’t have any place in football. That finishes people that.”
Rochdale boss Brian Barry-Murphy had no complaints at the red card but was disappointed to see his team let a point slip away late on.
He said: “I thought we were on our way to an extremely battling away performance. We had asked the players for that and they had given us everything.
“I think Gillingham had quite a few chances in the second half and our lads’ resolve was immense. We defended manfully.
“But when you’re defending in the box there’s always a chance that the ball will fall to one of their players and their lad put it in. It was a very disappointing end – just a communication error. It was very hard for the lads to take.
“It’s very difficult for our lads at the moment as we’re asking them to give everything. We’ve got so many young players involved and we’ve got key parts of our squad missing.
“Today’s finishing team had us asking people to do jobs in positions that they’ve never done before. The results can be painful but you gain a lot from these moments.”