BRADFORD 2-2 GILLINGHAM: MATCH REPORT
Gillingham battled to a 2-2 draw with promotion-chasing Bradford City on Saturday in Sky Bet League One, leaving Ady Pennock’s team unbeaten in three.
Josh Wright’s 14th minute goal opened the scoring, but goals from Charlie Wyke and Tony McMahon meant the Gills went into half-time 2-1 down. However, Deji Oshilaja popped up with an equaliser with an exquisite finish just after half-time to ensure the Gills went back to Kent with a point.
Head coach Pennock made two changes to the draw against Shrewsbury on Saturday, with Chris Herd and Rory Donnelly replacing Elliott List and Paul Konchesky in the starting XI.
Bradley Dack had the first effort of the game on four minutes. Ryan Jackson’s long throw was cleared by the Bantams, but only to Dack, who was waiting on the edge of the box and struck a volley that looked destined for the bottom corner, but a deflection from Romain Vincelot took the ball out for a corner.
The hosts went straight down the other end on the attack, and came close to opening the scoring on five minutes. West Ham loanee Josh Cullen picked out Wyke, but the debutant’s low cross was cleared by Oshilaja at the back post.
Wright opened up the scoring with just 14 minute played with a fantastic effort. City’s clearance from a Jackson throw only went as far as Wright, who gave Colin Doyle no chance with a thunderous volley from 12 yards.
Again, it was straight down the other end for the Bantams, who equalised just one minute later through Wyke. Mark Marshall did well down the right and delivered to the far post, where the new striker powered the ball home with a free header from two yards.
Evidently, both teams were going for the three points and the opening stages were an end-to-end affair, with most of the ball being played in either box.
Donnelly was next to go close for the Gills on 22 minutes, following clever play from Dack and Wright. The forward picked up the ball on the left-hand-side of the box and curled his effort to the far post, but was denied by a strong hand by the ‘keeper.
Billy Clarke had two opportunities to put the Bantams ahead in as many minutes, firstly forcing a good save from Stuart Nelson on the half-hour mark with a header. The playmaker then should have scored, one-on-one with Nelson, but he chose to try and round the ‘keeper and Scott Wagstaff was able to recover and play the ball to safety.
The Bantams took the lead on 38 minutes through right-back Tony McMahon. Nelson did well to tip Clarke’s free-kick on to the post, however McMahon was the first to react, smashing the ball into the back of the net from close range.
The Gills started the second half on the front foot and were rewarded in the 49th minute when Oshilaja equalised, scoring his second in as many games. The defender half-volleyed the ball in off the post following a poor clearance from Bradford, leaving the ‘keeper with no chance.
Nelson had to be alert in the Gillingham goal just three minutes later, and pulled off a fantastic stop to deny Cullen, tipping his volley around the post.
Cullen went close again on 64 minutes latching on to a loose ball and shooting inches wide with a powerful effort that had Nelson rooted to the spot.
The home side were pushing for a winner as the game wore on, but, along with the crowd, were getting frustrated with the Gills’ resilience at the back.
Donnelly came to the away team’s rescue with just 20 minutes of normal time remaining, being in the right place at the right time to deny Wyke with a clearance off the line.
Pennock made his first substitution in the 71st minute, with Bradley Garmston replacing the injured goal scorer Oshilaja. List and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas also came on to the pitch to replace Cody McDonald and Dack, as the head coach pushed men forward.
List nearly made an immediate impact, using his pace to get past the Bradford defence to latch on the Max Ehmer’s through ball, but the linesman’s flag went up for offside.
Substitute Jordy Hiwula broke through on goal with 86 minutes played, poking the ball over the onrushing Nelson, but, to the Gills fans relief, the ball bounced wide of the upright.
Stuart McCall’s men were piling on the pressure as the game wore into added time, winning corner after corner, and Wyke’s volley from a tight angle was deflected for a corner by Herd.
With 90 minutes played List broke away down the left-hand-side with great speed, but couldn’t find the pass to play Wright in on goal that would have given him an opportunity to score the winner.
Bradford: Doyle, Meredith, Law, Vincelot, Marshall, Dieng, Wyke, Clarke, Cullen (Hiwula, 80), McArdle, McMahon
Unused subs: Sattelmaier, Darby, Toner, Penney, Gilliead, Devine
Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Oshilaja (Garmston, 73), Ehmer, Herd, Wright, Hessenthaler, Wagstaff, Donnelly, Dack (Emmanue-Thomas, 80), McDonald (List, 78)
Unused subs: Holy, Osadebe, Dickenson, Byrne
Referee: Richard Clark
Attendance: 18,840 (224 away)