Cody McDonald earns Gills a draw at Bradford as visitors come from behind to secure a point in Sky Bet League OneCody McDonald struck his 14th goal of the season as Gillingham battled back in the second half against Bradford to secure a 1-1 draw at Valley Parade.
Aaron McLean gave the hosts an early lead when he latched on to a cross from Adam Drury on the left hand side, and Gills struggled to get a foothold on the game as Bradford continued to apply heavy pressure.
However the visitors stayed in the game and a double sub at half time, which saw Bayo Akinfenwa introduced in place of Joe Pigott, seemed to make the difference as the striker provided the assist for McDonald’s goal when his clever pass put his partner through one on one, and Cody made no mistake as he put the ball through the legs of Jon McLaughlin.
Cody had another chance soon after but his effort on that occasion was off target. Both sides went in search of the winner, but eventually both teams had to settle for a draw.
Peter Taylor made three changes to the side that beat Coventry 4-2 at MEMS Priestfield Stadium with Amine Linganzi, Craig Fagan and Joe Pigott replacing Charlie Lee, Steven Gregory and Akinfenwa.
Gregory missed the game due to illness, which allowed Michael Harriman to take a place on the subs bench.
Bradford stormed out of the blocks and controlled play for long periods in the first half. The Bantams had already struck the cross bar with a deceiving cross when they took the lead in the tenth minute.
Adam Drury got forward from left back and delivered a tempting ball towards the penalty spot. McLean got in behind the defence and converted past Stuart Nelson to open the scoring and give the home side reward for their excellent start.
The former Peterborough striker scored again within five minutes of the re-start, but the offside flag went up immediately to deny him doubling the advantage.
On 20 minutes Gillingham registered their first meaningful attack on goal – Myles Weston beat his man on the left wing and forced a decent save from McLaughlin.
Pigott was racing in hoping to take advatange of the rebound, but the keeper was back on his feet quickly to prevent the on loan Charlton striker having an effort on goal.
Within a minute his opposite number was called upon at the other end as Stuart Nelson saved a powerful header from James Hanson.
On the half hour mark Gills created a half chance as a long throw from Elliott Hewitt was flicked on by Adam Barrett, and Pigott was just a yard short on getting something on the ball at the far post.
Peter Taylor switched to 4-2-4 before the interval to try and play further up the pitch; the change seemed to work as Bradford struggled to create as many opportunities as they did at the start of the game.
Gills made two subs at the break with Akinfenwa and Lee replacing Pigott and Hessenthaler.
The changes were well timed as the visitors immediately showed signs of improvement, although Bradford did nearly grab a fortunate second when a cross from Reach grazed the top of the bar.
Within a few minutes it was a level game when Cody McDonald played a neat 1-2 with Akinfenwa on the edge of the box.
McDonald continued his run and placed the ball through the legs of the oncoming goalkeeper to make the score 1-1. It was the striker’s 14th of the season and his second in as many games at Valley Parade.
Suddenly the momentum shifted to the away team and Bradford struggled to create the openings they had done in the first half, although they had the lion’s share of possession for the majority of the second period.
McLean had two quick fire chances to restore the Bradford lead soon after the re-start, and he was nearly made to pay for missing them as McDonald got in again at the other end.
Another flick on by Akinfenwa was read perfectly by the number ten, but on his left foot he couldn’t produce a clear enough strike and the ball cleared the frame of the goal.
On 64 minutes McLean and Akinfenwa had efforts at either end in quick succession, prior to a shot by Reach which was whipped across the face of the goal – however nobody was on hand to slide in and take advantage of the empty net.
Sub Garry Thompson had the final effort on goal with just a few minutes to play. His overhead kick was mis-timed and the Gills were quickly able to clear their lines, and they saw the game out to earn a deserved point.
Gills: Nelson, Hewitt, Legge, Barrett, Martin, Linganzi, Hessenthaler (Lee HT), Weston, Fagan, McDonald, Pigott (Akinfenwa HT)
Unused subs: Baxter, Davies, Harriman, Smith, Dack.
Bradford: McLaughlin, Darby, Dolan (Jones 73), Davies, Drury, Hanson, McLean (Thompson 81), McArdle, Doyle, Reach, Bennett
Unused subs: Gray, McHugh, Bates, Atkinson, Bentley
Attendance: 13,089 (226 Gills)
Referee: Mr M Bull