Late penalty earns Gillingham a draw.
Tom Eaves scored a second-half stoppage time penalty to earn Gillingham a deserved point against Oldham at Boundary Park on Saturday afternoon.
The striker, on as a sub, sealed a 1-1 draw when his spot-kick beat Johny Placide, who had been in terrific form to deny both Conor Wilkinson and Jake Hessenthaler. Duckens Nazon had put Oldham in front before the break when his drilled effort found its way past Tomas Holy.
Steve Lovell named the same starting XI that drew 0-0 with Blackburn Rovers midweek with Conor Wilkinson continuing in attack alongside Josh Parker.
Tom Eaves and Luke O’Neill returned to the subs bench with Navid Nasseri and Bradley Stevenson also available. Liam Nash and Alex Lacey both missed out.
Gills used their width in the opening stages to try and get Parker and Wilkinson involved from the off, however a couple of early crosses were well defended before Ben Nugent gained a vital touch from an Eoin Doyle cross, which almost certainly would have been converted had the centre-back not made contact.
Scott Wagstaff had Gillingham’s first attempt on goal when his left-footed effort cleared the post by a yard, while at the other end Jack Byrne was comfortably denied by Holy when his tame effort inside the penalty area was an easy enough stop for the keeper.
On 22 minutes the visitors had another half chance when Callum Reilly’s corner was headed away by the first man; Jake Hessenthaler’s shot was blocked and the loose ball fell at the feet of Max Ehmer who saw his effort comfortably saved.
A minute later and Wilkinson had two chances within the space of 40 seconds; his first, from a very tight angle, was brilliantly saved by Johny Placide before a ball into the box struck the forward and after briefly steadying himself he powered an effort towards goal only to see a recovering defender slide across and make a crucial interception.
On 32 minutes it was Oldham’s turn to go close when Jack Byrne drove forward and spotted the run of Doyle through the centre, his pass split the Gills defence and the striker was just about to pull the trigger when Gabriel Zakuani came in with an excellent tackle to stop what could have been the opening goal of the game.
A few minutes later and the hosts went even closer. Jack Byrne’s free-kick found Doyle unmarked and in space on the left side, his header struck the outside of the post before the follow up also hit the woodwork. However, the offside flag had gone up.
Another set piece two minutes later had the visiting fans worried for a split second when Byrne’s free-kick found Edmundson at the back post. He was set to score but Holy spread himself well and made an excellent save low to his left.
The half looked set to pass without a goal, but just before the whistle Oldham took the lead. Byrne found Nazon on the right, he decided to take on Garmston and he found half a yard, from a difficult angle, to have a shot which was drilled beyond Holy and into the opposite corner.
Gills nearly found an equaliser within a couple of minutes of the restart. Wilkinson, with his back to goal slightly, received the ball just outside the area. He found room for a shot and with his left foot produced a powerful effort which whistled past the post with keeper Placide rooted to his line.
Doyle and Jack Byrne nearly linked up on 56 minutes to find a second goal for the Latics. A clever inward pass found the striker in space but his resulting shot lacked power and Holy gathered.
Lovell decided two minutes later that changes were required; Luke O’Neill and Tom Eaves were introduced at the expense of Ben Nugent and Conor Wilkinson, and within a minute a golden chance was created. A cross from the right cleared everybody except for Hessenthaler; from a few yards out he produced a decent header but somehow Placide got down and made an incredible stop from point blank range.
Doyle had a great chance to wrap the game up midway through the half when he linked up with Jack Byrne to create an opening. However his eventual effort lacked power and Holy gathered.
With time nearly up it appeared as if Oldham would hold on, but with the 90-minute mark approaching Gills were awarded a penalty for an off the ball incident involving Eaves. After consulting his assistant referee, the man in the middle pointed to the spot and the striker steadied himself and converted to give Lovell’s men a deserved point.
Oldham: Placide, Moimbe, Gerrard, Gardner, Nazon, Edmundoson, McEleney (Nepomuceno 69), Hunt, Faye, Byrne, Doyle (Hamer 90).
Unused subs: De La Paz, Amadi-Holloway, Pringle, Obadeyi, Benteke
Gills: Holy, Ehmer, Zakuani, Nugent (O’Neill 58), Wagstaff, Garmston (List 73), Reilly, Byrne, Hessenthaler, Wilkinson (Eaves 58), Parker.
Unused subs: Hadler, Ogilvie, Stevenson, Nasseri
Referee: Mr M Salisbury