Late save denies Gills a point against Blackburn Rover
An excellent save from Blackburn goalkeeper David Raya late in the game prevented Gills an equaliser in a narrow 1-0 defeat at Ewood Park on Saturday.
Gills asked plenty of questions during the last 15 minutes of the game but Rovers held on for maximum points courtesy of Dominic Samuel’s first half-strike.
Lee Martin and Ben Nugent had chances for the visitors, but it was List who was brilliantly denied by Raya with the winger looking certain to score, but his close range effort was clawed away by the Blackburn number one.
Interim Manager Peter Taylor made three changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Scunthorpe with Conor Wilkinson, Martin and Josh Parker coming in to replace List, Alex Lacey and Luke O’Neill.
List was among the substitutes with Lacey suspected to be missing through injury. O’Neill is recovering with a hamstring problem.
Finn O’Mara was recalled from his loan at Folkestone and provided cover from the bench.
Blackburn started both Bradley Dack and Samuel; Gills fans needed no introduction to either player.
The hosts enjoyed the majority of the possession in the opening stages without causing Gillingham too many problems. A header from Marcus Antonsson went over the bar with Samuel’s strike from distance off target.
Gills had their moments, the best of the chances falling to Wilkinson when a cross from Martin was met by Parker and from a tight angle the striker had to play a ball across the face of goal but no-one was available to turn it home.
The best opportunity of the half came on 28 minutes when a superb long pass from Richie Smallwood found Peter Whittingham running in behind the Gills defence but somehow Holy got a touch to concede a corner which was well cleared.
However, the Gills resistance would last just another two minutes. A corner from the left was played into the danger zone, the ball took a couple of ricochets and then fell kindly into the path of Samuel who, despite not hitting his shot cleanly, got just enough power on it to beat Holy as the ball trickled into the net.
The goal didn’t appear to change the pattern of play but Gills very nearly got themselves on level terms before the break. A free-kick, taken by Ogilvie, was half cleared and Clare was able to knock the ball back into the danger zone. Nugent’s control was superb and looked certain to score but a last gasp block denied the visitors an equaliser.
Neither side made any changes at the break and the game picked up where it had left off, with Blackburn enjoying more of the possession with Gills looking to threaten on the counter attack or take advantage of set pieces.
Martin looked the most likely to create an opening from midfield and with 61 minutes on the clock he drove towards the Blackburn penalty area and picked out Wilkinson to his left; the pass was a touch heavy and the striker’s effort from a tight angle flashed across the face of goal with the hosts eventually able to clear.
Gills introduced both List Finn O’Mara, the latter making his debut, as the visitors continued to frustrate Blackburn and use the counter whenever possible. However it was Tony Mowbray’s men who went closest to scoring the second goal of the game; sub Harry Chapman had enough space to hit a first time shot following a low cross from the right, he struck the post with Zakuani able to clear a follow up cross for a corner which was put behind.
With the minutes ticking away Gills began to ask more questions of the opposition and came so close to netting an equaliser. A knock down from Ben Nugent was played into the path of List and with the ball nearly behind him Raya managed to scoop away the effort with O'Mara’s follow up striking the side netting.
Blackburn: Raya, Williams, Smallwood, Mulgrew, Caddis, Antonsson (Gladwin 87), Downling, Bennett, Dack (Chapman 60), Whittingham, Samuel (Graham 75).
Unused subs: Leutwiler, Hart, Ward, Evans.
Gills: Holy, Byrne (O’Mara 60), Nugent, Zakuani, Ogilvie, Ehmer, Clare (List 70), Hessenthaler, Parker, Martin, Wilkinson (Cundle 75).
Unused subs: Arnold, Simpson, Oldaker, Starkey.
Attendance: 10844 (400 Gills)
Referee: Mr R Jones