ACCRINGTON 1-1 GILLINGHAM
Myles Weston’s first half strike earned ten man Gillingham a point against Accrington Stanley at the Crown Ground on Saturday afternoon in a competitive 1-1 draw.
Goalkeeper Stuart Nelson was sent-off midway through the second half for a professional foul on Padraig Amond inside the penalty area, meaning the Gills had to see out the remainder of the game a man down.
Weston had put the visitors in front, but the penalty kick that resulted from Nelson’s dismissal was converted by James Beattie, who was making his home debut for Accrington.
Both sides had chances before the end of the game but were unable to grab a winner in a wet and windy affair.
Martin Allen made two changes to the team that lost to Exeter during the week – Weston and Romain Vincelot came in for Charlie Allen and Ben Strevens, both of whom dropped to the substitute’s bench.
Bradley Dack sat alongside them having returned to the squad after his foot injury.
The opening exchanges were fairly even with both sides having opportunities. Romuald Boco striking his effort straight into Nelson’s arms before Weston used some clever footwork to have an effort on goal, his left foot shot calling on Ian Dunbavin to make a save for the first time.
In the 12th minute Vincelot decided to have a go from distance, and although his strike beat the keeper, it was a yard too high and cleared the cross bar before ending up in the stands.
Long range efforts kept on coming and Lewis Montrose was next to have a go – Weston played a short pass to him 25 yards from goal and the midfielder took a touch before picking his spot. It was well struck but failed to trouble Dunbavin who could only watch it go wide.
Former Southampton striker Beattie got his first taste of the action in the 19th minute. A cross from the right was received with an air shot from Montrose and the forward attempted to place it in the bottom corner, but was off target.
It wasn’t until the 42nd minute that the game got its next chance, and fortunately for the visitors, the first goal of the game.
Lee decided to throw a short one to Danny Jackman, his cross from the left hand side found Weston inside the box who was surrounded by Accrington defenders.
Despite that he was able to use clever footwork to find half a yard, and once he had done so, struck well in to the corner to put the Gills ahead at the interval.
It took seven minutes for the half to come to life and the Gills very nearly doubled their lead. Chris Whelpdale found himself in some space on the edge of the area and struck a sweet left foot shot.
However it took the faintest of touches on its way through and went for a corner kick – Montrose met it well but it was blocked and eventually cleared.
Three minutes later and Whelpdale went even closer – Burton did brilliantly on the edge of the box twice in succession to play in the midfielder. Whelpdale controlled well and aimed for the top corner but it fractionally cleared the woodwork and away for a goal kick.
On 68 minutes the game turned on its head when the Gills were reduced to ten men. Nelson brought down substitute Padraig Amond inside the area, and having not won the ball being the last man the referee was quick to dismiss the keeper with a straight red card.
As a result the hosts were awarded a penalty and Tommy Forecast came on in place of Charlie Lee to try and prevent an equalizer. However he was unable to stop Beattie converting the spot kick and the hosts were level.
The numerical disadvantage quickly showed as Accrington used the momentum to their advantage and began to boss proceedings. George Miller firing over the bar before Montrose was denied by a smart save from Dunbavin.
With 82 minutes gone Accrington should have gone in front. Beattie played a clever ball inside of Jackman to Lindfield, the winger took a touch before striking across the face of Forecast – it was aimed well but whistled past the post and the Gills survived once more.
With the clock ticking Boco struck the foot of the post with a powerful left foot effort. Forecast was at full stretch but the ball flew past him. The striker tried again right at the death but his effort was off target from the edge of the box.
Accrington: Dunbavin, Winnard, Liddle, Atkinson, Nsiala, Miller, Joyce, Lindifeld, Molyneux (Amond 67), Boco, Beattie.
Unusued subs: Dawber, Murphy, Schofield, Dixon, Gray, Hatfield.
Gills: Nelson, Fish, Barrett, Davies, Jackman, Montrose, Vincelot, Whelpdale (Allen 78), Lee (Forecast 68), Weston, Burton (Frampton 90).
Unusued subs: Essam, Dack, Strevens, Birchall.
Attendance: 1,624 (267)
Goals: Weston (42), Beattie pen (72)
Referee: Mr S Duncan