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16:49 7th August 2010

Bayo celebrates his first Gills goal


Manager Andy Hessenthaler received a warm welcome on his return to Priestfield and began his second stint at the helm with a draw thanks to Adebayo Akinfenwa's debut goal.

Hessy opted for a 4-5-1 formation with Jack Payne anchoring the midfield, and Palmer and Barcham supporting Stefan Payne in attack, on the left and right flanks respectively.

The Gills had an early scare when referee Phil Crossley awarded Cheltenham a second minute free-kick. Jeff Goulding seemed to go down rather easily as skipper Mark Bentley challenged just outside the area. Danny Andrew curled the resultant, well-worked, free-kick just over the top.

The hosts were unlucky not to take the lead in the 14th minute from a lovely move, created by Andy Barcham's cute turn which completely foxed Frankie Artus. Barcham used the space to pull-back for Curtis Weston, who struck a curling effort from the right-hand edge of the box which dipped sharply, but fell just the wrong side of the crossbar.

Five minutes later, Barcham was at the heart of another attack, collecting Palmer's neat lay-off and beating three men before attempting to beat keeper Brown with a low slice from an acute angle from the right of goal. The shot was easily dealt with by the Robins custodian, much to the frustration of Chris Palmer who was waiting, unmarked, in the centre.

In the 26th minute Danny Spiller powered into the visitors half and laid off for Barcham who unfortunately got the ball caught under his feet. It was cleared to Weston, who curled his centre back into the box, where defender Keith Lowe almost headed his clearance into the top corner of the Cheltenham net.

From the corner, Palmer laid off to Spiller who made up ground from the centre circle to loose off a shot from 20 yards. The initial effort caught the heel of Gowling who was unable to get the ball under control and Mark Bentley, following-up, was ruled offside.

The Robins offered little in terms of attacking threat until the 38th minute when Artus pushed his way to the edge of the Gills area before setting up Jeff Goulding to shoot. Fortunately for Gills fans, the forward pulled his snap-shot well wide of Julian's near post.

Two minutes before the interval, Jack Payne took matters into his own hands, collecting the ball in the centre and striding into the Robins half before chancing his arm from distance. The young midfielder's shot took a sizeable deflection before nestling in the arms of a grateful Scott Brown.

At the death Julian was called upon to make his first stop as Goulding's deep ball sent Thomas scampering clear. The pacey forward shot goalwards from the left side of the box but his low effort was easily held by the Gills No. 1

HT 0-0

Cheltenham fired a warning shot across the Gills bows, two minutes into the second half, as an error in the home defence found Wes Thomas in space. The Robins striker broke clear in the box but dragged his low finish agonisingly wide of the far post, much to the relief of the Priestfield faithful.

Five minutes later, Cheltenham stole the lead from a free-kick needlessly conceded by Danny Spiller. Keith Lowe's deep delivery fell to Wes Thomas who held off the attentions of Gowling before firing a low shot into Julian's bottom right hand corner.

The goal prompted a rethink from Hessy who sent on debutant Bayo Akinfenwa, switching to a 4-4-2 formation. The powerful striker took two minutes to make an impact meeting Spiller's corner with an acrobatic overhead kick to draw a save from the Cheltenham keeper.

Moments later, Gowling headed narrowly wide from another Spiller corner as the hosts upped the tempo. It was largely one way traffic as the Gills probed the visitors defence, but Cheltenham were unlucky with a 62nd minute counter-attack that saw Low send Goulding clear, only for the striker to fire well wide of the far post.

Luke Rooney came on for the last 20 minutes to inject some spark into the attack, and won a corner within moments, with a cheeky dink from the right of goal, that was headed behind by Elliott. Soon after, Barcham found Akinfenwa at the near post, with a precision cross from the right, but the big man was flagged offside.

The equaliser finally arrived with 15 minutes left on the clock, Adebayo Akinfenwa marking his debut with a headed goal. It was created by Jack Payne's long throw from the right, which Bayo met at the near post, finding the far corner with a back header.

Gillingham piled on the pressure in the closing stages and could have taken the lead on 82 minutes as a sweeping move saw Rooney feed Weston in the box. The midfielder shaped to shoot but Smikle stood up well to block his effort and deflect it behind for a corner.

Luke Rooney blazed wide, soon after, with a powerful volley from 30 yards out before Tony Sinclair hooked over the bar from a left-wing centre moments later. On 88 minutes Akinfenwa held up the ball superbly for Barcham to shoot from the edge of the box, his low effort deceived Brown but scudded wide of the far post as the Robins clung on for a draw.

5655 (182 visitors)

Alan Julian, Tony Sinclair, John Nutter, Mark Bentley, Josh Gowling, Jack Payne, Curtis Weston, Danny Spiller, Chris Palmer (Adebayo Akinfenwa 54), Andy Barcham, Stefan Payne (Luke Rooney 69)

Subs not used: Kevin Maher, Mark McCammon, Danny Jackman, Connor Essam, Lance Cronin.

Cheltenham Town:
Scott Brown, Michael Pook, Martin Riley, Danny Andrew, Wesley Thomas (Dave Bird 71), Steve Elliott, Jeff Goulding (Shaun Jeffers 85), Keith Lowe, Josh Low, Brian Smikle, Frankie Artus (JJ Melligan 90).

Subs not used: Dan Lloyd-Weston, Robin Shroot, Andy Gallinagh, Marley Watkins.


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.