Gillingham-Leeds United: Gills' Big Win Aids Survival, Saves Mark Stimson's Job

Yoosof Farah@@YoosofFarahSenior Writer IIIApril 17, 2010

GILLINGHAM, MEDWAY - FEBRUARY 23:  Simeon Jackson of Gillingham in action during the Coca-Cola Football League One match between Gillingham and Leyton Orient at the KRBS Priestfield Stadium on February 23, 2010 in Gillingham, Medway.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

With news of a 3-1 Tranmere Rovers victory over Exeter City, it becomes clear just how colossal Gillingham's 3-2 home win over promotion-chasing Leeds United was.

In the Coca-Cola League One (third tier of professional football in England), the Gills were 20th in the table before Saturday's match and languishing just above the relegation zone.

Their nearest competitors in the table were the aforementioned Tranmere Rovers, who had a game in hand over Gillingham and were just three points behind the Gills.

And going into this weekend's round of fixtures, Tranmere and Gillingham realised just how easy this situation could be reversed.

If the Rovers won, like they did, and Gillingham lost, it would be the former who would leapfrog their fellow relegation candidates in the table and get out of the relegation zone with a game in hand.

It was a glorious opportunity for Tranmere Rovers, especially considering Gillingham had an indifferent run of form at home recently and were up against arguably the best team in the league, Leeds United.

The same Leeds United team that beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup, and the team containing big game players like Jermaine Beckford, Luciano Becchio, Robert Snodgrass, etc.

So this puts into perspective just how colossal the final result was at the KRBS Priestfield Stadium, as Gillingham unexpectedly defeated Leeds United 3-2 to maintain their three-point advantage in the League One survival race.

Given their away form, had the Gills lost, relegation would almost be a certainty considering their last three games are away to already-promoted Norwich City, at home to Southampton, and then away to fellow relegation strugglers Wycombe Wanderers.

The first two of those teams where formidable Premier League sides only five years ago, and wins against them wouldn't really be a probable option. As for the latter, nobody expects Gillingham to win away from home, even most likely the players themselves!

So to say this 3-2 win for the Gills on Saturday is massive would be an understatement.

Especially considering relegation rivals Tranmere Rovers play their last four games against slightly easier opposition in the likes of mid-table Brentford, promotion-chasers Colchester United and Millwall, and finally against already-relegation whipping boys of League One Stockport County.

The important victory for Gillingham could also be the defining moment in the career of Mark Stimson, the current Gills manager.

Should his Gills players stay in League One and avoid relegation, his job will be most likely saved and he will avoid the sack.

The pressure has been mounting on Stimson all season, with calls coming in left, right, and centre by Gillingham fans to see this man sacked, claiming he is not up to the job of managing a professional football team.

Saturday's win could well have rescued his fledgling career, and will go some way to ensuring Gillingham Football Club do not take another back step in their development as a football club.

With their current finances, relegation could mean several budget cuts and thus several years playing in the Coca-Cola League Two, the fourth tier and basement league of professional football in England.

Again, it all emphasises just how important Gillingham beating Leeds United 3-2 really was.

And lastly, to get an idea of what an occasion it was for the two teams, Premier League referee Alan Wiley officiated the match, which had an above average attendance of 9,649, with 2,241 Leeds fans making the trip down south to watch their team.

To read the match report from Gillingham's win, click here.