NORTHAMPTON TOWN 0-0 GILLINGHAM: MATCH REPORT
Gillingham secured their Sky Bet League One status in front of over 1,000 travelling supporters after a goalless draw away to Northampton Town at Sixfields Stadium on Sunday.
Josh Wright had an early penalty saved by Town goalkeeper David Cornell. who also brilliantly denied Jake Hessenthaler, but Port Vale's failure to beat Fleetwood Town means the Gills will play in English football's third tier for the fifth year in succession next season.
Head coach Ady Pennock made two changes from last weekend’s 3-2 defeat to Fleetwood Town, with Stuart Nelson and Josh Parker replacing Tomas Holy and Rory Donnelly.
The away side had the chance to get off to a perfect start when Cody McDonald won a penalty with just nine minutes on the clock. Parker played in the Gills’ number 10 with a clever through-ball before David Buchanan clumsily slid in and took out McDonald on the edge of the six-yard box.
Top scorer Wright stepped up to take the spot kick, but was denied by a superb save from Cornell, who tipped the ball around his left-hand post at full stretch.
Gillingham were playing well and creating chances, but couldn’t find a way past an inspired Cornell. The Cobblers keeper was alert to keep out Lee Martin’s in-swinging corner on the quarter of an hour mark, before denying Hessenthaler’s low, long-range effort with another excellent save 15 minutes later.
Town could have gone into the break in front after Brendan Moloney found Marc Richards at the back post, but the Cobblers captain could only head wide of the upright.
With Northampton having nothing to play for, the Gills were the team looking to take control of the game and went close again through McDonald on 47 minutes, but he headed Martin’s cross just wide.
Cobblers’ keeper Cornell was called into action once again on 54 minutes, this time denying Ryan Jackson’s low shot after Martin’s effort was blocked by the Northampton defence.
Mark Byrne tried his luck with a low strike on 68 minutes, and Wright was inches away from connecting with the ball to knock in past Cornell.
As the game wore on the travelling support got louder and louder, spurring their team on to get over the line. They thought their side should have been awarded another penalty as the game approached the final 10 minutes. Shaun McWilliams handled the ball inside the area, but the assistant's flag didn’t go much up to their dismay.
Thankfully, there were scenes of joy after the full-time whistle, when players and supporters heard confirmation that the team would be playing in Sky Bet League One next season. The Gills end the 2016/17 season in 20th position.
Cornell, Moloney, Buchanan, Anderson, Diamond, Boateng (Anderson, 65), Richards, Refell, McWilliam, Nyatanga, TaylorNorthampton Town:
Unused subs: Smith, Phillips, McDonald, McCourt, Beautyman, Iaciofano
Nelson, Jackson, Ehmer, Oshilaja, Hessenthaler, McDonald, Martin, Parker, Rehman, Byne, WrightGillingham:
Unused subs: Holy, Wagstaff, Osadebe, Quigley, List, Muldoon, Cornick
7,034 (1,054 away)Attendance: