If the first game in charge is anything to go by, it’s going to be exciting and nailbiting stuff at the Crown Ground under the new regime.
Leam Richardson, Bryan Hughes and Phil Hackney took charge for the first time on Saturday after John Coleman’s sudden departure to Rochdale and the clash against their fellow promotion contenders certainly had the fans on the edge of their seats.
There was a buzz around the Crown Ground for the start of a new era and plenty of encouragement for the new managers as the crowd got behind them from the off.
And that was also felt on the pitch as the players came out with a sense of purpose – playing to show that it isn’t all doom and gloom following Coleman and Jimmy Bell’s departure after 13 successful years at Stanley.
Richardson couldn’t have had a better start with a goal after 45 seconds but, after being 4-1 up at the break, he was made to go through a roller-coaster of emotions on the bench as the Gills pegged it back to 4-3.
But Stanley held on to make it a dream start for Richardson in what he called a ‘perfect week’ as the Reds went into the play-off spots for the first time this season.
The former Blackburn and Bolton defender has said he wants the job full-time and everyone around the club showed that’s what they want too.
"After the first half when we were 4-1 up, I wanted the job," smiled the 32-year-old.
"In the second half, I wasn’t so sure. But no, definitely – it couldn’t have gone any better, it’s been brilliant, a perfect week.
"If someone had said in the car travelling to the game it would finish 4-3, I would have taken that and it puts us above them in the league and the play-off spot is now ours to lose.
"It doesn’t matter what has gone on behind the scenes, chopping and changing happens everywhere in football, but the lads deserve that.
"They have shown they are professional and done everything we have asked of them."
If the new boss had wanted to get off to a flyer it couldn’t have got much better.
The fledgling regime stuck to the same team as the last Coleman match which drew at Aldershot but there just seemed a more determined show from the Reds’ camp as they looked to show they still mean business in the promotion race.
A poor throw from Gills keeper Ross Flitney after just 45 seconds was intercepted by the quick-thinking Peter Murphy and he set up Padraig Amond whose cross was forced over the line – while there were shouts of an own goal loanee Michael Smith was sliding in too and no one in either camp was going to take it from the Charlton striker.
Danny Jackman equalised with a superb 20-yard free kick six minutes later as a high tempo game went from end to end with the Reds players challenging for every ball and throwing their bodies in front of any shots.
You couldn’t take your eyes off the clash and it was two on 19 minutes when Murphy again was in the thick of it, setting up Smith on edge of area and he fired low into the net – although Flitney could have done better.
The ever-alert Smith, on his home debut from Charlton, was then unlucky to have a goalbound header cleared off the line.
But it didn’t stop the rampant Reds with Smith turning provider to set up Joyce on the edge of the area for number three.
Number four came at the end of a perfect half for Stanley when a Murphy cross was tapped home by the unmarked Smith for his hat-trick.
It was 7-4 the last time these two teams met at the Crown Ground and Richardson admitted he joked with his counterpart Andy Hessenthaler that a repeat could be on the cards.
But it was no laughing matter for the Gills boss and, as the blasts came out of the visiting dressing room at the break, chants of ‘Leam and Phil’s red and white army’ alternated with ‘Leam and Bryan’s red and white army’ rang out all around the Crown Ground.
The second half didn’t quite go to plan as a mistake by keeper Ian Dunbavin allowed Gavin Tomlin to nip in and strike home.
And then it was hearts in mouths time as, with five minutes to go, Tomlin got a second and a Gills third.
Nail-biting stuff indeed for the new management team and it was a test of their organisational skills and the character of the team to hold on.
And thankfully they did with Ian Craney and Micah Evans going close at the end.
The game probably taught Richardson and co more about his team from a manager’s point of view but it also showed the players’ trust and their desire to have the new set-up as a permanent fixture.
"In the first half being a manager did seem easy but not so much in the second," said Richardson. "But we are in the play-offs now and, play like that most weeks, and we will be there or thereabouts."