SCUNTHORPE UNITED 0-0 GILLINGHAM
Goalkeeper Stuart Nelson produced a man-of-the-match performance to earn the Gills a point away at Scunthorpe United this afternoon.
Nelson made a number of good saves, most notably from Iron striker Paddy Madden, throughout the lively game at Glanford Park.
The point – the Gills' first since beating Barnsley on February 13 – and Walsall's defeat today moves the side up to third in Sky Bet League One, nine points behind leaders Burton Albion.
Manager Justin Edinburgh made three changes from the starting XI in Tuesday's game at Fleetwood Town, with Jake Hessenthaler, Doug Loft and Dominic Samuel replacing Ryan Jackson, Adam Chicksen and Rory Donnelly.
The Iron had the game's first shot, but Stuart Nelson made a routine save to deny Neal Bishop from his acute angle chip on six minutes. The midfielder looked offside when he was played through innovatively by striker Paddy Madden.
Madden's powerful shot on the turn from 20 yards hit Max Ehmer and was cleared by the Gills defence 180 seconds later, before the subsequent Gills break saw George Williams scuff his shot well wide.
Madden was involved continuously in the opening half; the home fans felt he was fouled by Adam El-Abd on 13 minutes, but the Gills loanee did well to shoulder him off the ball and prevent him from going through on goal.
Captain Stephen Dawson was the next Scunthorpe player to test Nelson, this time on 20 minutes. The move originated from a Gills attack, when Doug Loft was unable to find space for his shot, and from the United break, Dawson's effort from 12 yard was straight at the Gills goalkeeper.
Madden should have opened the scoring on 23 minutes, but could only head onto the bar from Jordan Clarke's pinpoint cross.
The Gills had their first bit of notable pressure in the middle of the half, with Loft having a shot deflected wide, former Iron player Josh Wright shooting over the bar and Samuel nearly latched onto Ehmer's long aerial clearance to create a chance for himself.
Madden again threatened for the hosts on the half hour mark, shooting low – and rather tamely – with his right foot, but an alert Nelson saved well to prevent in from trickling into the bottom corner.
And the Gills survived a bigger scare on 32 minutes. A brilliant Ness free-kick came off El-Abd and onto the post, and Madden's follow-up effort was cleared off the line by Ehmer.
Madden blazed over five minutes before the break; unmarked when Dawson's cross reached him at the back post, he volleyed off-target.
The Gills' best chance of the half came in the final minute, when Loft volleyed at goalkeeper Luke Daniels from Dickenson's cross.
The introduction of Jermaine McGlashan saw the Gills start the second half with a conventional 4-4-2 formation, but there was more pressure for the visiting defence to soak up.
Dawson headed straight at Nelson within 120 seconds of the restart, Wallace headed at Nelson shortly after the hour mark and then the Gills goalkeeper got down low to deny Madden from eight yards.
But the Gills gradually gained a foothold in the game. Loft's free-kick caused Daniels problems, and the home goalkeeper almost dropped the subsequent Ehmer cross at the feet of three Gills players.
However, the hosts ended strongly, despite the Gills changing to a 3-4-1-2 formation, with Loft playing in the Number 10 role, and Dickenson moving upfront along substitute Donnelly.
Iron substitute Kyle Wootton headed straight at Nelson on 76 minutes, and the goalkeeper made a brilliant save with his right foot to deny Madden once again when the striker was through on goal nine minutes from time. It proved to be a decisive save, as neither side threatened before full time.
The Gills return to the MEMS Priestfield Stadium next Saturday, facing Crewe Alexandra in a 3pm kick-off
Scunthorpe United: Daniels, Clarke, Mirfin, Wallace, Townsend, Bishop, Dawson (McSheffey 77), Ness, O'Brien (Vose 85) Madden, Hopper |(Wootton 71)
Unused substitutes: Anyon, Wiseman, Laird, King
Gillingham: Nelson, A Morris, Ehmer, El-Abd, Dickenson, Hessenthaler, Wright, Williams (McGlashan 46), Loft, Norris (Donnelly 64), Samuel (Garmston 73)
Unused substitutes: G Morris, Osadebe, List, Oldaker
Attendance: 3, 355 (away attendance not given)
Referee: Mr D Deadman