OLD boy Delroy Facey consigned Town to defeat for the second time in six weeks.

Back on January 12, the Huddersfield-born striker fired home the goal which clinched Gillingham’s 3-1 win at the Galpharm.

And in Kent on Saturday, the 27-year-old won the controversial 87th-minute penalty which allowed teammate Adam Miller to seal his side’s first victory since that Galpharm success eight games previously.

‘Won’ is the key word, because Town youth product Facey, who played for the club between 1996 and 2002 and again on loan in 2005, went down just inside the area under minimal contact from Nathan Clarke, who had an excellent game in the centre of defence.

A goalless draw had looked on the cards, and that would have been a fair reflection of a game in which Town adapted well to the loss through injury of Rob Page.

Clarke’s fellow centre-back took a knock to his lower left leg which required lengthy treatment from physio Lee Martin midway through the first half.

He kept going, and after further attention during the break, returned for the second half, but lasted only three minutes before signalling the need to come off.

“It’s difficult to say exactly what the problem was,” explained the man who has made such a positive difference to Town’s concession rate.

“Perhaps it was a blow to a nerve, because the leg was pretty numb, and by half-time, I was struggling big time.

“I hoped with a bit of treatment I’d be able to run it off, but it wasn’t to be. It was disappointing, but hopefully I’ll be okay for Saturday (when League I leaders Swansea visit the Galpharm).”

Andy Ritchie’s reshuffle left Frank Sinclair in his old position of centre-back, Michael Collins at right-back and substitute Malvin Kamara on the right wing.

And while Gillingham had more of the ball in the second half, Town coped pretty well, with centre-back Simon King’s curling shot from midfielder Miller’s 62nd-minute corner the only clear home chance until the penalty.

Miller – who was sent off at the Galpharm and who Town boss Ritchie contended shouldn’t have been on the pitch to take the spot kick because of a string of earlier fouls, including a chest-high challenge on Clarke which went unpunished and a late tackle on the same player which did bring a yellow card – made no mistake from the spot, sending Matt Glennon the wrong way with a low shot to the keeper’s right.

Town twice came close to a leveller during the four minutes added on by Essex referee Steven Cook, who was loudly jeered by the 200 travelling fans as he left the pitch.

First good footwork on the left touchline by Phil Jevons led to a cross which Andy Holdsworth fired narrowly wide.

Then Clarke set up substitute Andy Booth for a low angled shot which went across the face of goal and just evaded the stretching Jevons.

It was Jevons who had Town’s best chance of the first half.

After controlling Sinclair’s cross in the 42nd minute, he played a one-two with Chris Brandon but couldn’t keep his volley on target.

Earlier, Sinclair had a shot blocked and Jevons a well-struck effort saved by Simon Royce.

Then Robbie Williams latched onto a fine crossfield pass by Clarke to easily beat right-back Sean Clohessy and bring another save from Royce with a left-foot drive.

For Gillingham, striker Simeon Jackson failed to trouble Glennon with a low shot while Clarke produced a fine block tackle to foil left-back John Nutter.

Striker Gary Mulligan, who scored twice against Town at the Galpharm, headed over from a cross by Miller.

Midfielder Andrew Crofts should really have counted with a diving header, but his 44th-minute effort from Clohessy’s cross flew wide.

Player ratings

Matt Glennon

Sent the wrong way from the penalty spot but equal to everything else that came his way.


Frank SInclair

Solid both at right-back and, after the departure through injury of Rob Page, in the centre of defence.


Robbie Williams

Produced some decent work defensively and had an early effort on goal, but set-pieces were disappointing.


Michael Collins

Played well in midfield but was troubled by Delroy Facey’s pace and power when at right-back.


Nathan Clarke

An excellent effort. Tackled, blocked and headed well and was very unfortunate to be penalised for the penalty.


Rob Page

Looked comfortable, even after picking up the painful knock to his left leg which finally forced him off.


Andy Holdsworth

Never allowed his workrate to drop in a busy midfield contest against Andrew Crofts and Stuart Lewis.


Jon Worthington

The skipper was back after three games out with a hamstring injury and added bite to midfield.


Luke Beckett

The frontman tried his best, but didn’t get much change out of Gillingham’s trio of centre-backs.


Phil Jevons

Kept looking for openings, but couldn’t make the most of the one which came his way just before half-time.


Chris Brandon

Worked his wing diligently and helped out in defence when needed, but unable to exert real influence.


Town substitutions

Malvin Kamara for Page, 48mins; Andy Booth for Beckett, 75mins. Not used: Danny Schofield, Joe Skarz, Simon Eastwood.Cautions: Collins, Williams, Worthington.


Royce, Richards, Cullip, King, Clohessy, Crofts, Lewis, Miller, Nutter, Mulligan (Facey, 67mins), Jackson (Griffiths, 69mins). Subs not used: Stillie, Fuller, Thurgood.

Caution: Miller.

Ref watch

Steven Cook, one of the new breed of twentysomething referees which also includes Michael Oliver and Stuart Atwell, failed to impress in the 20th match of his debut season at Football League level.

The penalty given against Town was soft in the extreme and while the yellow cards he dished out were fair enough, he allowed some bookable offences to go unpunished.