Gills produce stunning second half display to earn point at PrestonLeon Legge scored in second half stoppage time to complete an excellent comeback for the Gills in a 2-2 draw with Preston at Deepdale on Tuesday night.
The centre-back headed home an excellent cross from substitute Josh Pritchard to earn the visitors a point, with the Lilywhites having seemingly taken control with a 2-0 advantage at the break.
Jermaine Beckford and Callum Robinson scored twice in the space of nine minutes, but Gills came storming back after the interval and first Jermaine McGlashan pounced on a John Marquis through pass before Legge popped up with just minutes to go to give Justin Edinburgh’s men a deserved point.
The Gills boss made two changes to the team that beat Bradford 1-0 at the weekend with Aaron Morris and John Marquis replacing Jake Hessenthaler and Luke Norris.
Brennan Dickenson had to settle for a place on the bench with Oliver Muldoon and Gavin Hoyte also in the squad.
Preston could have gone ahead within the first 58 seconds – a cross from former Leeds striker Beckford picked out Joe Garner at the back post, he was unmarked but on the stretch couldn’t beat Glenn Morris.
Cody McDonald had an effort blocked at the other end before Bradley Dack did well to get behind John Welsh’s half volley following an important punch from Morris.
Garner had two further opportunities, courtesy of crosses from Robinson, both of which however were well dealt with by Morris who was grateful a few minutes later to see a shot from Beckford go wide of the far post.
Amari’I Bell had the Gills first meaningful attempt on goal on 34 minutes. Loft quickly took a free kick to his left hand side, Bell looked up and produced a decent effort which Johnstone got down to fairly comfortably.
But then, just three minutes later, the Liylwhites finally did find a way beyond Morris – a goal kick from Johnstone found the feet of Garner, he produced a great ball for Beckford who was picked out on the right hand side of the penalty area.
He looked up and thundered a shot beyond Morris into the opposite corner to send the home fans into uproar. It was the least they deserved after a convincing first half display and they doubled the advantage just before the half time whistle.
Beckford received the ball deep on the left wing, Robinson provided the support and he ran unchallenged towards the centre and drilled a right footed effort beyond Morris and into the corner.
Gills looked a lot brighter at the start of the half although Morris still had to look alert in the early stages to deny Daniel Johnson.
The midfielder produced an excellent curling effort which the keeper did well to first get down to and then claim at the second time of asking.
On 58 minutes Gills found a way back into the game when Marquis spotted the initial run of McGlashan but still asked a lot of the winger with what looked to be a heavy ball.
Jermaine sprinted beyond his marker, got to the ball before Johnstone and slotted home to stun the home faithful.
This seemed to give Gillingham a spark and for the next quarter of an hour they bossed proceedings – Dack first being denied by Johnstone before Marquis headed wide at the near post.
On 76 minutes Morris pulled off a magnificent save to deny Garner – the striker tried his luck from 20 yards and it looked to be nestling into the top corner all but for the out stretched right hand of Morris who did brilliantly to palm the shot wide for a corner.
A number of tasty challenges were put in as both sides looked for a potentially decisive goal, and with the board for stoppage time having only just gone up it was the Gills who got it.
Pritchard, who had just come on for Aaron Morris, produced a stunning ball towards the far post where Legge was waiting for the delivery – he looped the ball over Johnstone and into the back of the net.
Dack was denied a late free kick in a dangerous area, with the full time whistle sounding soon after.
Preston: Johnstone, Laird (Humphrey 48), Clarke, Wright, Woods, Welsh, Johnson (Kilkenny 80), Robinson, Beckford (Wiseman 59), Gallagher, Garner.
Unused subs: Stuckmann, Davies, Little, King
Gills: G Morris, Legge, Egan, Ehmer, Bell (Dickenson 69), McGlashan, Loft, A Morris (Pritchard 90), Dack, Marquis, McDonald (Norris 69).
Unused subs: Nelson, Hoyte, Muldoon, Hessenthaler
Attendance: 9417 (127 Gills)
Referee: Mr D Coote