Skipper Adam Barrett earned the plaudits with a bullet header to claim a late point for the Gills from a highly engaging game at Home Park.
Coming just four days after the battling midweek draw with Cheltenham Town at Priestfield, Martin Allen made five changes to bring fresh legs into his side. Flanagan and Jackman came into the back four, Lee returned in midfield, while Burton and Strevens were paired in attack.
Following an impeccably observed minute’s silence, to commemorate Remembrance Day, the action got underway with the Gills pressing their hosts direct from the first kick.
The first clear cut opening came on six minutes as a Charlie Lee throw wasn’t cleared by the Argyle defence, Payne helped it back to Ben Strevens who went close with an acrobatic, overhead kick that fell the wrong side of Gilmartin’s left hand upright.
Just three minutes later the Argyle custodian was called upon to make his first save of the match, Jack Payne’s corner finding Lee unmarked in the box but Gimartin was well placed to hold his powerful header.
Coming into the game on the back of four defeats the home side looked nervy but grew in confidence as the half wore on, urged on by the vocal Argyle support. Their first chance came on 16 minutes, Jamie Lowry with an effort from distance that failed to seriously test Stuart Nelson.
Moments later Chris Whelpdale forced a corner with a brilliant header from Jackman’s far post cross. Then Deon Burton put the ball in the net with a right foot shot from close range but the goal was chalked off for an alleged foul by Deon in the build up .
At the opposite end Nelson was in action again on 25 minutes saving Feeney’s header from right-back Durrell Berry’s centre, while Burton was just off target moments later with a glancing header from a Jackman cross.
On the half hour Plymouth were denied the opening goal by a sensational reaction save by Stuart Nelson. Berry tried his luck from distance with a 25 yard effort that the Gills keeper couldn’t hold, Rhys Griffiths was on hand to tap home the rebound, only to see Nelson recover and dive at full stretch to push his effort behind for a corner.
Fellow forward Warren Feeney allowed frustration to get the better of him soon after and was booked for a needless foul on Jackman, while Payne almost found the net with a shot from a poorly cleared Lee throw on that was pushed out by the Argyle keeper.
The home side then took the lead, against the run of play, from a 33rd minute corner. Jamie Lowry’s delivery from the right was headed across goal and Curtis Nelson arrived at the far post to stab home from close range.
That lead lasted just five minutes though, as the Gills recovered quickly and levelled the scores through Ben Strevens. Matt Fish’s ball into the box was helped by Whelpdale to Strevens on the left of goal, he found the net with a precision strike to the bottom corner to record his first League goal for the club.
With half time approaching Fish found space on the right for a wicked low cross that was begging to be finished, sadly Curtis Nelson was able to hack clear ahead of any Gills intervention. While Vincelot tried his luck with a rising drive from the edge of the area that cleared the bar in time added-on.
Martin Allen made a change at the interval, injecting pace into his midfield with the addition of Myles Weston for Charlie Lee and the Gills almost took the lead two minutes after the restart as Deon Burton’s bicycle kick from Payne’s corner just dropped the wrong side of the crossbar.
With the home side setting up to protect their point, the Gills continued to push and probe for an opening but were limited to half chances, while Berry and Paris Cowan-Hall enjoyed the best of the Plymouth possession without actually forcing a save from Stuart Nelson
With the game deadlocked, Martin Allen brought on leading scorer Danny Kedwell for the final 20 minutes to join Burton up front, Weston moving to the left side of midfield and Strevens over to the right.
Urged on by an increasingly vocal support Argyle continued to look dangerous on the counter and could have twice went close in quick succession 15 minutes from time. First Cowan-Hall fired over at the near post, from close range, before Gurrieri’s far post header was cleared for a corner by Matt Fish on the line.
After a good spell of pressure the home side found the net ten minutes from time after Luke Young raced onto a clever through ball that took him goal-side of the visitors defence, Stuart Nelson came off his line quickly to narrow the angle but was left powerless as Young lashed the ball home.
Five minutes from time Onismor Bhasera broke into the Gills box but was halted in his tracks by a superbly timed challenge from Tom Flanagan. Moments later the Adam Birchall joined the attack replacing Deon Burton.
Then with just two minutes remaining and the home fans sensing victory, Gillingham struck back. Jack Payne’s deep cross from the right flank was nodded back across goal by Myles Weston and skipper Adam Barrett arrived on cue to head his first goal for the club into the roof of the net.
Attendance: 6,396 (377 Gillingham)
Gillingham: Stuart Nelson, Matt Fish, Adam Barrett, Tom Flanagan, Danny Jackman, Jack Payne, Chris Whelpdale (Danny Kedwell 69), Charlie Lee (Myles Weston 46), Romain Vincelot, Deon Burton (Adam Birchall 85), Ben Strevens
Subs not used: Andy Frampton, Callum Davies, Lewis Montrose, Tommy Forecast.
Plymouth Argyle: Rene Gilmartin, Durrell Berry, Darren Purse, Conor Hourihane, Paris Cowan-Hall, Luke Young, Rhys Griffiths (Nick Chadwick 68), Warren Feeney (Andres Gurrieri 60), Onismor Bhasera, Jamie Lowry, Curtis Nelson
Subs not used: Jake Cole, Maxime Blanchard, Guy Madjo, Joe Lennox, Scott Griffiths.
Referee: Andy D’Urso
Assistants: Derek Eaton & Andrew Laver
Fourth Official: Mark Derrien