Gillingham secure hard earned point in competitive encounter at Vale Park

Bradley Dack struck his third goal in three matches to help maintain Gillingham’s unbeaten start to the 2015/16 season.

The midfielder rocketed home an indirect free kick inside the first 20 minutes, only for Louis Dodds to level the scores up before the interval.

The hosts had the better of the chances in the second half but Gillingham showed grit and determination to hold on to a point in a competitive encounter at Vale Park.

Justin Edinburgh made two changes to the team that beat Plymouth midweek with Bradley Garmston and Josh Wright replacing Jake Hessenthaler and Jermaine McGlashan, both of whom were named on the bench.

Youngsters Darren Oldaker and Elliott List were also among the subs with former Port Vale striker Ben Williamson lining up in attack.

As for Vale they included former Gills loanee Ryan Inniss in their starting XI with former Sheffield United midfielder Michael Brown on the bench.

Ryan Jackson conceded an early free kick and Port Vale took it quickly, catching out the Gills back four, and Nelson had to look alert to make two quick fire stops to deny Inniss an opener inside 40 seconds.

The hosts enjoyed a good spell of early pressure and on six minutes won a free kick right on the edge of the box when Uche Ikepazu was fouled by John Egan.

Sam Foley took it but sent a tame effort wide of the upright before Byron Moore slipped inside the area having been put through one on one by Dodds.

Those missed opportunities proved costly as Gillingham took the lead against the run of play on 17 minutes. A back pass to Jak Alnwick was picked up by the Vale keeper, thus giving the visitors an indirect free kick seven yards from goal.

The ball was rolled into the path of Bradley Dack who smashed an effort into the roof of the net.

Vale responded well, Foley missing the target with his second free kick of the game before Ikepazu forced a comfortable save from Nelson.

The game became quite heated with three bookings being collated in the space of a few minutes, the latter handed to Garmston with the following free kick producing two half chances.

Inniss had the first which Oshilaja cleared before a strike from Anthony Grant was similarly dealt with by the centre-back.

However Vale finally did get their goal on 35 minutes – Dodds received the ball in space on the right hand side, his first touch was excellent before driving the ball across Nelson and into the bottom corner.

The forward was at it again a few minutes later but Nelson won the duel on this occasion, palming his effort wide for a corner which Norris did well to clear.

Nelson made another good save just before the interval before watching a header go wide of his left hand post just before the break.

H/T: 1-1

Vale picked up where they left off following the interval but were forced into a change when Enoch Andoh picked up an injury and was replaced by Sam Kelly.

From the free kick which followed Inniss struck the bar with the ball findings its way to safety.

Ikepazu saw an effort go wide before a tame back pass from Jackson nearly allowed Moore a sight at goal but Josh Wright got back to help and the recovering defender did just enough to regain possession.

On 63 minutes Jake Hessenthaler, on for Garmston, set Williamson free and the striker ran 25 yards with Dack in space to his right.

The striker decided to go it alone and blazed an effort over the bar with Alnwick untroubled.

Ikepazu and Egan both went close as the game progressed into the closing stages, the hosts winning a number of corner kicks which Gillingham defended well.

F/T: 1-1

Port Vale: Alnwick, Purkiss, Dickinson, Inniss, Duffy, Grant, Foley (Brown 73), Moore, Andoh (Kelly 50), Dodds, Ikpeazu (Daniel 76).
Unused subs: Johnson, Streete,  Leitch-Smith, Birchall

Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Egan, Oshilaja, Garmston (Hessenthaler 58), Wright, Houghton (McGlashan 89), Dickenson, Dack, Norris, Williamson (Donnelly 82)
Unused subs: G Morris, Ehmer, Oldaker, List

Attendance: 5067

Referee: Mr F Graham