Michael Brown's late strike deprives Gillingham of all three points in an entertaining 2-2 draw at PriestfieldMichael Brown’s last gasp strike earned Port Vale a point in a 2-2 draw against the Gills at MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The former Sheffield United and Tottenham midfielder found the net with a fortuitous shot in the dying moments which escaped the clutches of Stuart Nelson who had little time to react before it nestled in the corner.
Dany N’Guessan had put the hosts ahead on 18 minutes when his right foot shot from just outside the area opened the scoring, but John Egan turned the game around completely when two headers either side of the interval beat Chris Neal to put Gillingham in the driving seat.
However with the clock ticking down Vale threw the kitchen sink at Peter Taylor’s men, and Brown was certainly lucky to net the equalizer with the ball finding a way past the Gills number one.
Taylor made two changes to the side that drew at Bradford last weekend with new loan signing Max Ehmer replacing the recalled Kortney Hause in the centre of defence, while Michael Doughty got the nod ahead of Bradley Dack in midfield.
Danny Kedwell, Jermaine McGlashan, Antonio German and Dack provided the attacking options from the bench.
Port Vale had more of the ball in the opening few minutes but failed to capitalise on their early territory with only Mark Marshall trying his luck from range which went well wide of the right hand post.
Gills created their first opportunity from a corner kick on seven minutes. Jake Hessenthaler whipped in a great ball towards the penalty spot and Brennan Dickenson rose highest, however his header was a yard off target.
Brown had his low shot saved by Nelson low to his right hand side, before the visitors went in front on 18 minutes.
N’Guessan received the ball on the edge of the penalty area from Louis Dodds, he created a yard of space for himself as Hessenthaler looked to make a tackle and found the bottom left hand corner with a strong right footed effort which gave Nelson no chance.
Vale had a half chance to double their lead when N’Guessan deprived Legge of possession on the left hand side, he produced a teasing cross right in front of the goalkeeper but the Gills defence managed to clear their lines.
On 28 minutes Dickenson nearly produced one of the goals of the season when a short pass to the winger on the edge of the area was controlled well, and Brennan launched a terrific curling effort towards the opposite corner which just cleared the bar.
However less than 60 seconds later and it was a level game – Egan, who had surged forward on a couple of occasions, suddenly found himself with a yard of space and drilled a low left foot shot into the bottom corner.
The centre-back producing a terrific strike from a little over 20 yards to bring the game level, and it sparked the home side into action as they bossed the next 10 minutes.
Loft, Dickenson and McDonald all went close for the hosts before Nelson produced a stunning save to deny Dodds from 25 yards.
The forward aimed for the top right hand corner but the keeper got across and got enough on it to palm it down and collect at the second attempt.
Neal then touched over an effort from Dickenson before producing another top draw save to push away an effort from Doug Loft.
Vale came storming out of the traps in the second half – Nelson having to be alert to punch away an early corner before staying on his feet to save a snapshot from Ben Williamson 20 yards from goal.
Gills began to exert some pressure themselves and on 55 minutes took the lead. Doughty’s corner was aimed towards Egan and the defender planted his header across Chris Neal who, along with a defender on the post, couldn’t keep it out.
Egan reeled away to celebrate a brilliant brace, his header proving too powerful for the two players on the line to deal with.
Vale’s response was immediate, Mark Marshall finding space on the right for an effort which was well saved by Nelson before Legge’s header at the other end just cleared the bar.
With less than 20 minutes to go substitute Colin Daniel nearly forced the equalizer when his effort struck the inside of the left hand post before N’Guessan missed the target completely from 12 yards with the goal at his mercy.
Loft had an effort saved by Neal before Brown saw his left foot effort go a yard wide of the right hand post.
Nelson then pulled off a wonder save to deny Louis Dodds when his shot struck the fingertips of the keeper before hitting the bar, but with just seconds left Vale got their goal.
Brown drove inside and evaded two tackles before having a shot from 20 yards. The ball hit the surface and with Nelson well placed the ball spun away from his grasp and into the corner.
However it was enough to snatch a late point, with Gills cruelly denied with virtually the last kick of the game.
Gills: Nelson, Hoyte (McGlashan 71), Legge, Ehmer, Egan, Chicksen, Hessenthaler, Loft, Doughty (Dack 88), Dickenson, McDonald (German 71).
Unused subs: G Morris, Lennon, Linganzi, Kedwell
Vale: Neal, Yates, Dickinson, Robertson, Dodds, Williamson (Campion 81), O’Connor, Brown, Marshall (Daniel 68), Veseli, N’Guessan (Birchall 81).
Unused subs: Boot, McGivern, Duffy, Lloyd
Referee: Mr B Malone
Attendance: 4799 (131 Port Vale)