Darren Hare reports from Beechings Cross...A good game to watch for the spectators with lots of chances at both ends, but a game the young Gills will feel they let slip after a thunderous start.
For a good 30 minutes Gillingham were the dominant force creating good opportunities but they failed to finish off their opponents after going two up. However, after 20 minutes, Charlie Webster shot first time at an acute angle and managed to squeeze the ball past the Crawley keeper for a great finish.
Within minutes Crawley had an attack that goalkeeper Luke Nalder dealt with well and then started our counter attack. Alfie Coates finished brilliantly after a 70-yard dash upfield to support Webster.
After this some clever play by their centre-forward Scott Melville, who outwitted Michael Freiter to head home, saw the visitors pull one back and after this moment the game truly did change. They got a lift from scoring and we became a little flat and that’s how it continued until 20 minutes of the second-half.
Crawley played a speculative forward ball and Emmanuel Rowe just beat keeper Nalder to the ball to earn a spot kick from which Alex Malins converted. To be fair, they had pushed us hard and missed one or two very good chances so it was probably deserved.
After this goal, the game changed slightly in our favour again with substitute Jack Sellens missing a great chance after good work by Aaron Millbank, and Webster opting to have a touch instead of shooting after good work by Mahlon Romeo. All decisions at crucial times – all part of the learning process for these young players.
All things being equal, it was a good game in that both teams tried to win and win well, and I guess on the balance of play I am pleased with a draw as I feel that reflected the nature of the match, but slightly disappointed that we had a good lead – although anyone will tell you 2-0 is a dangerous scoreline. Again – a good learning curve for our boys.
I have to say we worked extremely hard, and we are now starting to understand the new shape and mentality and I am definitely seeing the results of our fitness work starting to blossom. Great to see Stephen Butcher starting a game again for a long time! Welcome back Steve
Gills - Nalder: Butcher (Romeo 45), Freiter, Maughan, Staunton, Blanchard, Webster, Hendricks (Sellens 60), Arif (Lee 45), Millbank, Coates