Morecambe 1-1 GillinghamBradley Dack’s second senior goal earned the Gills a deserved share of the spoils and extended their great away record in a muddy battle at the Globe Arena.
With Port Vale returning to winning ways the table sees the Gills four points clear at the top with a game in hand.
In a proverbial game of two halves it was Morecambe that had the better of the first-half and led through a Jack Redshaw goal at the break before the Gills dominated proceedings in the second-half and deservedly equalised.
There were four changes to the Gillingham team that started at Exeter in midweek, Chris Whelpdale, Andrew Frampton, Michael Richardson and Danny Kedwell all came in for Anton Robinson, Steve Gregory, Danny East and Deon Burton.
Just four minutes in home goalkeeper Barry Roche, who only returned to the Shrimps side following a suspension ahead of the game, was perhaps lucky to escape with just a yellow card after he handled outside the area having initially dropped a routine cross.
Despite having two efforts Bradley Dack couldn’t find a way through the Morecambe wall from the resultant free-kick.
In a bright opening for the Gills Dack put a looping header onto the top of the net before Roche had to react quickly and block Kedwell at close quarters following a short back pass.
Jim Bentley’s side slowly got into the game and in the 11th minute Gills midfielder Richardson went very close to opening the scoring, unfortunately for the home side, his headed clearance scraping his own bar with Stuart Nelson unmoved.
Two minutes later Dack had another attempt with a free-kick, this time from around 30-yards, but it flew over the top.
In the 16th minute Ryan Williams fired a long distance shot at Nelson and soon afterwards Lewis Alessandra put an effort inches over the top.
It wasn’t until the 28th minute that the next opening came but Kedwell’s low strike from some way out didn’t trouble Roche as it went across face of goal.
Three minutes later Richardson should have netted at the right end. Kedwell won the ball in midfield and fed Antonio German who broke down the left, he squared the ball perfectly for the on-loan Newcastle man but after looking composed with his first touch he blazed the ball over the top.
Morecambe kept plugging away and Stuart Drummond fired a shot at Nelson then Jack Redshaw drilled a low shot wide.
At the other end referee Sutton waved away penalty appeals when a deep Matt Fish crossed was headed goalwards by Whelpdale.
It was the home side that made the breakthrough in the 42nd minute. A low Drummond cross from the right was scuffed goalwards by Gary McDonald and there was Shrimps leading scorer Redshaw to touch it past Nelson from close range.
Just before the break Williams played in a curling free-kick that bounced across goal but nobody got a touch.
H/T: 1 - 0
Charlie Allen replaced Richardson at the break taking over the central midfield position alongside Frampton.
The first chance of the second-half came in the 51st minute, Chris Holroyd created space on the edge of the area and drilled a low shot at Nelson.
A minute later the scores were level, a low Whelpdale cross from the left was not even half-cleared to Dack who accepted the gift by stroking a low bobbling shot past Roche from around ten yards. The 233 travelling supporters were delighted.
Shortly afterwards Allen became the second player to receive a yellow card for a heavy challenge on Threlfalll near halfway.
With 65 minutes on the clock a second Gillingham change was made with Anton Robinson replacing Whelpdale.
A great piece of work by Joe Martin led to the Gills, who were now the dominant side, next chance, Dack went down in the area but there were few appeals and the ball found its way to German who cut inside but curled a left-foot shot over.
That was the last piece of action for the Brentford loanee as he was replaced by Deon Burton in a third and final change by Martin Allen.
A marauding Allen [Charlie] went down under a challenge that went unpunished moments before right-back Fish cracked a rising shot inches over the bar.
In the 80th minute Dack went close to his second goal of the game, Robinson curled in a cross from the left and the Gills youngster glanced a deft header inches past the far post with Roche only able to watch.
Seven minutes from time a Fish cross was helped on by Burton to Kedwell but the leading striker hooked his shot over the bar.
The action continues on Tuesday at Rochdale.
Morecambe – Roche, Fenton, Haining (Threlfall 43), Wright, Alessandra, Williams (Burrow 72), McCready, Drummond, McDonald (Fleming 83), Holroyd, Redshaw Unused subs: Arestidou, Parkinson, , Mwasile, Doyle
Gillingham – Nelson, Fish, Martin, Legge, Barrett, Dack, Frampton, Richardson (Allen H/T), Whelpdale (Robinson 65), German (Burton 74), Kedwell Unused subs: Lee, Davies, Forecast, Muggleton
Attendance: 1,674 (233 Gills)
Referee: Gary Sutton
Assistants: M. Coy & I. Siddall
Fourth official: P. Hodskinson