Steve Lovell's side all but clinch League 1 safety with draw at Valley Parade.
Brandon Hanlan’s eighth goal of the season ensured Gillingham returned from Yorkshire with a point on Easter Monday as it ended 1-1 at Bradford.
Kelvin Mellor had given Bradford the lead after nine minutes, but Hanlan netted following a mistake from the Bantams keeper resulting in the spoils being shared at Valley Parade. Regan Charles-Cook came close to netting a winner later on in the second half, but his effort rebounded back off the crossbar as the Gills had to settle for a point.
Gillingham came in to the game on the back of a crucial win over Plymouth on Friday and Steve Lovell made three changes for the trip to Yorkshire, with Leo Da Silva Lopes, Elliott List and Tahvon Campbell all coming in to the starting eleven with the latter making his first start for the Gills.
Bradford had their relegation to League 2 confirmed on Friday, and manager Gary Bowyer also shuffled his pack and went with an eleven that featured ex-Gills captain Josh Wright while former loanee Adam Chicksen missed out.
In a sparsely packed Valley Parade, Gillingham had the first chance of note, but Luke O’Neill shot over from 20 yards. Leo Da Silva Lopes then played through List, but the returning forward lost his footing just before he was about to get a shot off in a bright opening.
Despite a positive start from Gills, the hosts took the lead in the ninth minute when a free-kick from the right-hand side by Billy Clarke was put in to a good area, Kelvin Mellor rose highest and headed in to the net. A good delivery and a good header to give the Bantams the lead.
Less than five minutes later, Lewis O’Brien cut in from the opposite flank, but he saw his shot easily saved by Tomas Holy. Gills responded though and Brandon Hanlan headed on to the top of the net after a cross in from Campbell.
Lopes was impressing in the opening exchanges in Yorkshire and he did well again to feed Hanlan through in the 18th minute, but the forward shot wide after showing good strength to initially lose his marker.
The forward line was causing all sorts of issues and the pace being offered by Hanlan and Campbell was particularly problematic. The latter, shooting wide after good work from Regan Charles-Cook, not to dissimilar to the chance Hanlan had.
In the 40th minute, Gillingham were forced in to an early change with Barry Fuller being replaced by Bradley Garmston. Fuller took a whack earlier on in the half but wasn’t able to recover. His replacement, Garmston, nearly made an immediate impact but his rasping shot from 30 yards went over the bar.
Neither side made a change at the break, with the hosts now attacking their fans over to our left and the first chance went to Bradford but Jermaine Anderson’s effort from inside the box failed to test Tomas Holy.
Gillingham were to get back on to level terms in the 52nd minute, when a mistake from goalkeeper Ben Wilson saw the ball drop to Hanlan inside the six-yard-box. The striker was alert to net his 8th goal of the season, and it’s fair to say he won’t have an easier finish all year. 1-1
Bradford went in search of a response and it took a last-ditch block from Connor Ogilvie to deny an effort from Sean Scannell, a crucial intervention from an effort that looked to be heading towards the goal.
Steve Lovell was forced in to another change just after the hour mark when Lopes limped off, the impressive midfielder replaced by Josh Rees at Valley Parade.
Gills came within inches of taking the lead in the 73rd minute. Luke O’Neill fed the ball to Brandon Hanlan who in turn laid it off to Regan Charles-Cook, but the midfielder’s effort cannoned back off the crossbar and away from danger. Tahvon Campbell then saw a shot blocked from inside the box as Gills looked to complete the turnaround.
With ten minutes left to play, Tom Eaves was introduced in place of Campbell, as Gills went in search of a winner.
As the game ticked towards full time, both sides seemed happy to secure a point, a late spell of pressure from the hosts required the Gills backline to be switched on, and they were.
Bradford: Wilson, O’Connor, O’Connor, Scannell, Miller, Mellor (Doyle 75), Clarke (Butterfield 79), Anderson, Wood (Woods 75) Wood, O’Brien, Wright
Unused subs: O’Donnell, Payne, Devine, Caddis.
Gillingham: Holy, Fuller (Garmston 40), Ogilvie, Ehmer, O’Neill, Byrne, Lopes (Rees), Charles-Cook, Campbell, List, Hanlan
Unused subs: Hadler, Lacey, Oldaker, King, Eaves
Referee: Eddie Ilderton