Gills Captain scores his first league goal for the club to clinch a point late on against Colchester at PriestfieldDoug Loft struck deep into stoppage time to earn Gillingham a point in a 2-2 draw with Colchester United at MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday.
George Moncur had given the visitors the lead on 62 minutes but Max Ehmer headed home inside the last 10 minutes to put Gills in the ascendency.
However Colchester delivered a sucker punch with just three minutes to play when Chris Porter latched onto a teasing cross from the left to seemingly give the visitors all three points.
With just seconds to play though Loft clinched a point for the hosts when his right foot curling effort finally beat Sam Walker who had pulled off a string of fine saves to keep his side ahead.
Colchester ended the game with 10 men when Matthew Briggs was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Justin Edinburgh made four changes to the team that lost 3-0 at Chesterfield; the injured Joe Martin was replaced by new loan signing Amari’I Bell with Luke Norris preferred to John Marquis in attack.
Jake Hessenthaler returned to the starting XI with Oliver Muldoon on the bench.
However the most eye catching change was in goal where Glenn Morris made his Football League debut for the club in place of Stuart Nelson.
There was an early opportunity for Gills to take the lead – Norris got on the ball and the Colchester defence retreated in numbers to allow the striker to advance into space, he played a clever ball through to McDonald whose shot was blocked by the legs of Walker.
The resulting corner was headed wide by John Egan before Glenn Morris comfortably claimed an effort from Alex Gilbey.
A midfield battle ensued with neither side really able to create an opening; a couple of quick corners for Colchester were easily cleared before a third was delivered towards Porter whose header from six yards was caught by Morris.
A Jacob Murphy effort inside the area was well blocked by Egan before shots from Aaron Morris and Norris went wide of the target.
Colchester very nearly found themselves in front just seconds after the restart. Ehmer did his best to fend off a challenge from Porter, however the striker came out on top and fired an effort narrowly wide as Morris came out to narrow the gap.
On 58 minutes Gillingham were denied, what looked to be, a stonewall penalty kick when Jermaine McGlashan, on for Aaron Morris at the break, burst into the box and was tripped.
The winger went to ground but the referee waved it away to the anger of the fans and Gills management.
And that decision proved pivotal as within a few minutes the Gills fell behind. A counter attack down the left hand side saw a cross delivered to the back post, a second delivery was kept out by Glenn Morris and John Egan but the ball fell nicely for Moncur who powered an effort home to put the visitors in front.
Shortly after and Dack drilled an effort just wide of the near post with Loft turning provider on the left wing - he then had two further shots, both saved by Walker, with the first a clever backward header which was tipped over before the keeper made himself big to block a shot at the far post.
Gillingham’s pressure was finally made to pay on 82 minutes –McGlashan won a free kick wide on the right hand side which Loft delivered. Ehmer was first to it and guided the header beyond Walker, with Marquis leaving the ball to cross the line with the striker in an offside position.
The home crowd turned up the noise as the Gills piled forward in search of a winner, however it was Colchester who regained the advantage on 87 minutes.
Briggs delivered an excellent ball from the left wing and Porter got half a yard in front of Ehmer to head home with the Gills defence almost certain the forward was in an offside position.
With Briggs then sent off it added more time on top of the five that were given, and Loft was clinical when his chance came along by wrapping his right foot around a loose ball which worked its way around Walker and into the corner.
The final whistle sounded soon after with Gillingham grabbing a much deserved late point.
Gills: G Morris, Hoyte, Ehmer, Egan, Bell (Dickenson 74), Loft, Hessenthaler, A Morris (McGlashan 46), Dack, McDonald, Norris (Marquis 68).
Unused subs: Nelson, Legge, Galbraith, Muldoon.
Colchester: Walker, Wynter, Khumalo, Gilbey, Briggs, Eastman, Moncur, Murphy, Sembie-Ferris (Massey 46), Fox (Szmodics 51), Porter.
Unused subs: LEwington, Marriott, Vincent-Young, Bonne, Lapslie.
Attendance: 5319 (344 Colchester)
Referee: Mr D Sheldrake