Rory Donnelly hit the post as Gillingham were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw against Swindon Town at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium this afternoon
Rory Donnelly hit the post as Gillingham were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw against Swindon Town at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium this afternoon.
Seeking the first double over the Wiltshire club since the 1981-1982 season, the Gills dominated through the game, despite a howling wind around the stadium.
Donnelly fired against the woodwork early on, and Josh Wright almost scored a sensational goal, but Town held firm to take an arguably undeserved point.
Celebrating a year in the job, manager Justin Edinburgh made one change to the starting line-up from last week's defeat at Blackpool, with Donnelly replacing Luke Norris to play upfront alongside Dominic Samuel.
And it almost turned out to be an inspired decision on four minutes, as the Irish striker took advantage of Nathan Thompson's slip to go through on goal, but the wind diverted his volley onto the post and out of harm's way.
This effort came 180 seconds after Doug Loft had threatened, and shortly after, Bradley Dack curled an effort wide.
On top and in control, the Gills players believed they should have been awarded a penalty on 10 minutes. Neat play between Dack and Ryan Jackson ended up with the latter's run into the box thwarted by Brandon Ottweill. Referee Andy Woolmer let play continue.
Aaron Morris, who performed brilliantly in midfield throughout and played a big role in preventing Town from gaining a foothold in the game, almost connected with Jackson's cross on 17 minutes but the ball was marginally too high for him.
Town's first notable chance came when Jon Obika fired his volley wide of Stuart Nelson's left-hand post after 22 minutes, before another move involving Jackson resulted in Samuel's shot from being blocked.
Samuel was fouled by Jordan Turnbull when in charging towards the box on 29 minutes – again, the decision went against the Gills – and two minutes later Wright's powerful strike from 20 yards was brilliantly saved by Town goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux.
Yet for all the Gills' play in the opening 45 minutes, only a brilliant Max Ehmer block denied Obika from opening the scoring. What would have made the goal worse is that the Town move started when the referee deflected the ball when the Gills had possession in the opposition half.
The opening 20 minutes of the second half were a midfield battle, with neither side creating a clear cut chance.
Dack almost made an opening of his own on 65, having blocked a clearance from Yaser Kasim and surged up the right wing, but the midfielder could not find Donnelly or Samuel with his cross.
The club's leading scorer was again in the action on 69 minutes when he dragged a shot wide, which ended up in Gills being awarded a corner. Unfortunately, Donnelly couldn't get enough power on Loft's delivery to head past Vigouroux.
The next Gills chance also fell to Dack, but he was unable to get his shot away after darting along the edge of the box in the 76th minute. Three minutes later, he did get a clear sighting of goal, but his right-footed effort gave Vigouroux a routine save.
Obika again threatened for the visitors with an effort deflected wide on 79 minutes, but John Egan was closer still with a curling 20-yard effort eight minutes later after the visitors had failed to clear a Jackson throw. Despite four additional minutes at the end of the game, it proved to be the hosts' last chance.
The Gills return to action at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium against Barnsley next Saturday (February 13). Factory, the club's new entertainment venue, will once again be open before and after the match.
Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Egan, Ehmer, Chicksen (Donnelly 82), A Morris, Wright, Dack, Loft, Samuel (Norris 83), Donnelly (List 90)
Unused substitutes: G Morris, Hessenthaler, McGlashan, Osadebe
Swindon Town: Vigouroux, Barry, Thompson (C), Turnbull, Ormonde-Ottewill, Kasim (Brophy 84), Rodgers (Iandolo 62), Doughty, Robert (Marshall 77), Obika, Ajose
Unusued substitutes: Belford, Balmy, Hylton, Cooke
Attendance: 6, 398 (260 away)
Referee: Mr A Woolmer