Writer: Chris Dicketts
Date:Saturday March 14 2009
Gillingham were held to a draw after surrendering a two goal lead against fellow play-off hopefuls Shrewsbury.
Curtis Weston opened the scoring for the Gills with a stunning strike, before Nicky Southall gave them a comfortable lead.
However, a late brace from Grant Holt left the home side wondering what could have been, on a day when other results in the Division went in their favour.
Match Report By Robert Richardson
Andy Barcham returned to the Gillingham starting line-up after a lively return from injury on Tuesday, replacing Dennis Oli on the left wing.
Gillingham made a dream start to the game, taking the lead after 4 minutes; Nicky Southall`s cross from the right was headed clear, but fell to Curtis Weston 25 yards from goal. The midfielder chested it down, and hit an unstoppable volley which flew over goalkeeper Luke Daniels and dipped perfectly under the crossbar.
The first half was a fairly even affair, although Shrewsbury`s first real attempt on goal didn`t occur until the half-hour mark. Ben Davies blasted a free-kick high and wide of the goal from a promising position.
Gillingham came close a few minutes later, when Mark McCammon forced Daniels into a save with a header from 12 yards.
As half-time approached, the Gills had Simon Royce to thank for making sure they would go in at the break a goal to the good.
Ben Davies shot with another powerful free-kick, but this time it was on target- and only Royce`s diving save prevented the ball ending up in the far corner of the goal.
Five minutes after the interval, the home side found themselves in a great position, having extended their lead to two goals.
Simeon Jackson showed great determination in pressuring Kelvin Langmead, and eventually stole the ball from him. The striker back-heeled for Nicky Southall who was in space; the experienced the midfielder taking his time and picking his spot just inside the far post.
Simon Royce made another crucial save soon after, pushing yet another Davies` free-kick round the post at full stretch.
Mark McCammon had a chance to seal the result for Gillingham on the hour-mark, after some good work out wide from Southall. The midfielder rounded the defender and picked out McCammon in the area, who powered a shot at goal, forcing Daniels to turn it over the bar.
Gillingham began to sat back as Shrewsbury pushed forward in search of a much-needed result, and the visitors should have pulled one back through Moses Ashikodi.
Arriving at the far post, the forward had only Royce to beat, but managed to power a half-volley from 10 yards out onto the crossbar.
However, in the 77th minute, the Shrews did manage to register a goal, thanks to a controversial penalty.
Barry Fuller was penalised by the referee for a barge on Moses Ashikodi, although the incident seemed to be a fairly innocuous 50-50 challenge.
Grant Holt stepped up to convert the penalty, despite having to retake it after an initial encroachment.
Gillingham tried desperately to hold out for the win, but their task was made a whole lot harder when Simon King was forced off with an injury, being replaced by Garry Richards. The last time Garry Richards and Mark Bentley played together, the Gills shipped 4 very poor goals against Aldershot.
And this lack of stability without King was demonstrated as Shrewsbury grabbed a share of the points just as the fourth official signalled stoppage time.
Chris Humphrey made a run down the right, and crossed towards the far post. Grant Holt arrived unchecked to head past a helpless Simon Royce.
Holt could have made it a hat-trick deep into stoppage time, forcing another fine save out of Royce from inside the area, to the relief of everyone in a Gills shirt.
Today`s draw leaves Gillingham in fifth place in the table, only two points behind Wycombe in second. However, Shrewsbury, who stand just outside the play-off places, are only three points behind them - a gap which could be far more comfortable if the Gills could have held onto their lead.
A tough run of fixtures will provide a challenging end to the season for Gillingham, who will need to pick up points in their next two away games against Notts County and Grimsby if they are to maintain their promotion push, before a run of games against the teams at the top of the league begins.
Date:Saturday March 14 2009
Pre-Season: Gills Add To Schedule (Wednesday May 15 2013)
Pre-Season: Lions Coming To Town (Tuesday May 14 2013)
Payne Set For Permanent Posh Switch? (Monday May 13 2013)
Former Loanee Opts For Portsmouth (Saturday May 11 2013)
That Could've Been Me (Friday May 10 2013)
Hessenthaler Leaves Priestfield (Tuesday May 7 2013)
Trio Honoured By Their Peers (Tuesday April 30 2013)
Gills Winners Named (Monday April 29 2013)
Gills End With A Rare Away Defeat (Monday April 29 2013)
Stats: Burton v Gillingham (Sunday April 28 2013)
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