BURTON ALBION 2-1 GILLINGHAM: MATCH REPORT
Cody McDonald’s second-half equaliser wasn’t enough as the Gills were dealt a sucker blow in injury time, losing 2-1 at Burton Albion on Saturday.
Goals from Lukas Akins and Tom Naylor secured the three points for the Brewers, and it looked as though the Gills’ chance of a top six finish had been taken away from them in the most dramatic of fashions. However, a 97th minute equaliser from Colchester at Barnsley meant that it is still all to play for going into the final game.
Dominic Samuel returned to the starting XI for the first time since coming off injured against Coventry at the start of April.
There was a big-game feel about the occasion, with both the home and travelling fans in full voice from before kick-off, knowing what was at stake for their respective teams.
The first attempt came from the hosts. Deji Oshilaja’s clearance was controlled by Damien McCrory, who took on a speculative volley from 25-yards but his effort was comfortably saved by Stuart Nelson.
Naylor was next to have a long-range effort, cutting in from the right and driving his shot just wide of the woodwork.
It wasn’t the best of starts for Edinburgh’s side, and they were forced into making two substitutions with just a quarter of an hour played. Both Aaron Morris and Bradley Garmston went down with injuries and were replaced by Doug Loft and Brennan Dickenson.
The Gills’ first effort came from Dominic Samuel, with another shot from distance. The striker plucked the ball from the air with a deft touch, before unleashing a half volley that flew just wide of the upright from 18-yards.
With the introduction of Loft, the Gills looked more composed in the centre of the park and began to look threatening going forward.
A clever bit of inter-play between the strike partnership nearly ended with a goal on 34 minutes.
Cody McDonald played a one-two with Samuel on the edge of the box and found himself with just the keeper to beat, however he dragged his shot just wide.
The Gills were finding pockets of space behind Hamza Choudhury, who was sitting in front of the Brewer’s defence, and looked dangerous on the break.
Bradley Dack had an opportunity with five first-half minutes remaining. The Gills’ top scorer was at the end of a move which started from the back, but his angled shot was just wide of the target and flashed into the side netting.
The Brewers were in front on 44 minutes. Mark Duffy picked out LUKAS AKINS at the back-post, and the striker couldn’t miss from four yards.
The Gills came out for the restart all guns blazing and Loft went close with a low effort that was pushed round the post by Jon McLaughlin.
Last week against Shrewsbury, the formula of Dack teeing up McDonald brought the Gills’ opener, and it was much of the same today.
Dack took the corner and MCDONALD escaped his defender to head the ball into the corner of the goal. McDonald and his team mates ran over to the Gills fans standing in the terrace, which erupted as the net rippled.
The goal fired the away side into life, after starting the match on the back-foot, and they were playing with confidence.
The forwards looked energetic and were chasing every ball, with the centre-midfielders looking calm and composed in the engine-room.
Oshilaja looked a threat from right-back and was getting into forward areas at every opportunity. The defender nearly set up a goal on 64 minutes, as his cross was met by Samuel, but the loanee couldn’t find a finishing touch.
The Brewers had a few half-chances as the half wore on, but nothing that worried the back-four and Nelson in goal.
The Gills’ final substitution, Rory Donnelly, came on with 15 minutes remaining in a straight swap for Samuel.
Both teams were pushing for a winner with the game coming to an end, but neither wanted to commit men forward and leave themselves exposed at the back.
With 90 minutes played the fourth official put up his board to indicate four minutes of added time to the delight of both sets of fans.
It was the home fans, however, who were celebrating just a minute later. TOM NAYLOR’s header from a corner-kick ended the tie and the Brewer’s saw the game out to win 2-1.
Burton: McLaughlin, Edwards, Cansdell-Sherriff, Mousinho, Beavon (Butcher, 75), Akins, McCrory, Naylor, Duffy (O’Connor, 90), Palmer (Walker, 85), Choudhury
Unused subs: Bywater, Reilly, Weir, Harness
Gills: Nelson, Garmston (Dickenson, 14), Ehmer, Egan, Oshilaja, Wright, A. Morris (Loft, 16), Hessenthaler, Dack, McDonald, Samuel (Donnelly, 74)
Unused subs: G. Morris, Jackson, Williams, Norris
Referee: T Harrington
Attendance: 5,388 (723 away)