Stevenage manager Graham Westley feels he is getting key players back at just the right time after Darius Charles' two goals helped Sky Bet League 1's bottom club to a vital 3-1 win over Gillingham.

Boro made full use of the man advantage given to them by Elliott Hewitt's red card after 21 minutes to move to within two points of safety.

Westley said: "At a club like ours you can't afford to be without your big players.

"We lost John Ashton tonight but we were fortunate enough to be able to bring John Mousinho in and that's a bonus that we haven't had all through the season.

"If you've got big players out there, you've got the chance of winning points.

"We were without Ash and Felipe (Morais) tonight after they picked up knocks over the last 10 days so we've got some big players to come back.

"We're down at the bottom and I think tonight was about us sending out a message that we might be down but we're not out and it's very much game on from our point of view.

"We're looking forward to the games that are ahead of us and it was important to start with three points tonight, which the boys did - it was very much a team performance."

The game burst into life when Hewitt handled Francois Zoko's shot on the line with the latter casually stroking in the resulting penalty.

Stevenage doubled their lead when Luke Freeman got away down the left and cut the ball back for Charles, who saw his effort deflected in.

Gillingham briefly thought they had a route back into the game after Cody McDonald's composed finish only for Charles to pop up with his second three minutes later following a Freeman free-kick.

Gills boss Peter Taylor said: "I'm very proud of the players for the way they kept going because it was a difficult evening.

"Obviously it was a disappointing first goal for us in respect that it wasn't good defending and then we got a man sent off as early as that.

"It was the correct decision by the referee and the wrong decision from Elliott.

"I feel he should have let it go in because at that early stage, if it goes in you've still got 11 men and you've still got time to recover.

"It made it a difficult night but I thought the players kept going so I was really impressed with that and we've had enough chances.

"Cody could have had four goals so in that respect I'm very proud of them.

"There were a few little frustrating things that we've got to improve on but there were a lot of good performances."