Gills put in excellent performance to take a point from fast starting Blackpool.
Gillingham held early pace setters Blackpool to a draw as a double from Alex Jakubiak ensured Steve Evans picked up his first point at Priestfield.
Jakubiak scored twice inside the opening 40 minutes before the visitors responded goals courtesy of goals from Sullay Kaikai and Armand Gnanduillet pulled Blackpool level. A siege on the Tangerines goal in the final ten minutes ensured it was a breathtaking finale in ME7 but there was no way through as it ended 2-2.
The first chance of the game went the way of the Gills, but Brandon Hanlan fired straight at keeper Jack Alnwick. The Tangerines responded though, although Nathan Delfounso could only fire over from the edge of the box.
Gills took the lead in the 8th minute through Alex Jakubiak. The on-loan forward received the ball from a cut back from barry Fuller. He composed himself before calmly slotting the ball past Alnwick to give the Gills the advantage. 1-0.
Gillingham were certainly looking up for it and a couple of crunching tackles resulted in Fuller teeing up Lee Hodson, but his goal bound effort was blocked before reaching the goal.
In the 37th minute, Elliott List should have doubled Gills’ lead. A slip from the Blackpool defender saw Hanlan pounce on the edge of the box, he teed up List, but his powerful effort was saved by Alnwick.
Just a minute later though, the Gills did double their advantage. Alfie Jones recycled possession, List played in Jakubiak, who jinked inside his man before powering past Alnwick. The keeper got a hand to it, but he couldn’t keep it out. 2-0.
Blackpool responded immediately and reduced the deficit at Priestfield. A lovely team move involving Gnanduilliet and KaiKai saw the latter played through on goal. He coolly slotted past Bonham to make it 2-1.
Both teams will have felt they felt they could have got on the scoresheet in the next few minutes. Firstly, Curtis Tilt struck the post for Blackpool after a free-kick wasn’t cleared by the Gills before Stuart O’keefe, on the stretch, couldn’t direct a cross on target.
Blackpool levelled just before the break. A cross from the right-hand-side was floated up to the far-post and there was the towering Armand Gnanduillet, who directed a header past Bonham in to the bottom corner. 2-2.
Blackpool had the first chance of the second half when Gnanduillet went through on goal but Connor Ogilvie got across well to block the attempt - good covering from the defender. The high press from the Gills was getting Priestfield rocking, as the pressure started to increase in Kent.
The powerful Gnanduillet again came close. He drove at the retreating Gills defence and took aim, although his effort took a deflection and whipped past the post. It looked very close from the stands.
A couple of changes in the 72nd minute were followed by Mark Byrne firing a volley over the bar. Had it gone in, it would have been a ‘worldie’
The best chance of the second half fell to KaiKai but Bonham stood big to deny the forward with a finger-tip save. It swung the momentum of the game, and gave Evans’ side a platform to build on.
Gills will have felt they could have snatched it there after. Sub Mikael Mandron was unmarked at the far-post, but was denied by a save at the back-post, the follow up was deflected behind for a corner.
Multiple corners were dealt with before both Byrne and Hodson struck over and penalty appeals were waved away. A standing ovation at the final whistle summed up the mood at the final whistle.
Gillingham: Bonham, Hodson, Ehmer, Ogilvie, Fuller, Jones, Byrne, List (Marshall 72) ,O’Keefe, Jakubiak (Marshall 70), Hanlan
Unused subs: Walsh, Woods, Tucker, Cisse, Marshall, Mandronn.
Blackpool: Alnwick, Bushiri (Nottingham 72), Edwards, Delfounso (Guy 28), Spearing, KaiKai, Feeney (Anderton 83), Thompson, Tilt, Turton, Gnanduillet.
Unused subs: hardy, Pritchard, Shaw, Mafoumbi
Referee: Mr Neil Hair