Accrington hold Gillingham to a goalless draw.
Gillingham were frustrated by Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night at the Medway Priestfield Stadium with visiting keeper Jonny Maxted in inspired form to keep the Gills attack at bay in awful conditions as the sides drew 0-0.
The hosts dominated the first half action forcing Maxted into a number of good saves while Tom Eaves’ low drive clipped the post. The second period was much the same with DJ Oldaker coming closest for the Gills with a vicious free-kick that was tipped onto the bar.
Gillingham Manager Steve Lovell mixed up the starting XI for the Gills after a tough encounter in Wales against Swansea City in the FA Cup on Saturday as Brandon Hanlan, Barry Fuller, and Oldaker all came into the XI.
It was a quiet start to the game with the Gills looking bright down the right-hand side with Hanlan and Fuller combining on two occasions in the first 10 minutes.
The first saw Fuller stand up a cross but Josh Rees was just beaten to the ball before Hanlan’s cross was bundled behind after he beat his man to get to the by-line.
Archetypal battling centre forward play from Eaves then won the hosts a free-kick right on the edge of the box as he was dragged down following a long ball forward. Oldaker took responsibility and curled his effort over the wall but just couldn’t get it down in time to trouble Maxted in goal.
The Gills were dominating the game now with Oldaker again in the mix taking a half-cleared header down, after superb work by Elliott List on the flank, before blasting the half-volley towards goal but Maxted was able to punch clear.
Tomas Holy was called into action for the first time in the game after 19 minutes when McConville was given too much space on the edge of the box and shot powerfully on goal but Holy got down well to push it behind.
The corner set up a counter attack for the Gills with List bursting clear before playing it into the path of Eaves who allowed the ball to fall into his stride before striking across goal, but his effort clipped the post and went wide.
A quick free-kick then got Hanlan in on the right-hand side of the box whose cross was bundled out as far as Max Ehmer but his drive was well blocked by the Stanley defence.
The Gills were continuing to cause Accrington all sorts of trouble going forward with List the next to test Maxted as he hammered a shot towards goal from a tight angle that the keeper got behind to make the save before falling on the ball as it pinballed around the six-yard area.
With the game quietening as the break approached Accrington grew into the match slightly, putting the Gills defence under pressure with a sustained spell of pressure that only resulted in a speculative bicycle kick soaring into the Rainham End from the edge of the box.
List was still a threat down the left and he went close again as he bamboozled his man before driving into the box and getting a shot away that Maxted again managed to get a hand to and deflect it to safety.
H/T: 0 – 0
Stanley started quickly and had the first chance after a cross into the box was defended bravely by Connor Ogilvie and the ball dropped nicely for Brown but fortunately for the Gills his shot was miles over the bar.
Up the other end, Fuller cut onto his left foot and shot towards goal from 30 yards however Maxted got across his line to make the diving save.
Eaves then was then slipped in down the left-hand side of the box by Mark Byrne after Rees did well to break up play in the midfield but the keeper saved his shot as the Gills’ top scorer aimed for the near post. Ogilvie then headed over the corner at the far post under pressure.
A rare foray forward for Stanley gave Sykes a good opportunity at the back post but his header was tame and Holy was able to gather comfortably. A set piece from the right flank was more problematic for the Gills with Eaves forced to hack clear off the line as a downward header nearly bobbled over.
The Gills were back in the ascendancy just after the hour with a driving List run causing trouble for the Accrington back line before an angled drive from Ehmer forced Maxted into yet another save.
And they had a great chance to take the lead immediately after as Hanlan drove at the defence forcing an Accrington player to stop the ball with his hands giving the Gills a free-kick dead centre of the box 25 yards out.
Oldaker curled it around the wall and Maxted did incredibly well to stretch out a hand and tip the shot onto the bar and over.
The next chance came after 78 minutes when a dinked cross in from Accrington was headed clear to Conneelly on the edge of the area but he sliced his volleyed wide.
The Gills had a golden chance to sneak into the lead when List flicked a ball on to the marauding Ogilvie whose low cross eluded everybody in the box before falling to Rees into the box, however he was unable to get the ball under his control and the opportunity was gone.
The final few moments were feisty as both sides got stuck in but the Gills were left to rue missed chances and a keeper in brilliant form.
F/T: 0 – 0
Gillingham travel to the Ricoh Arena on Saturday afternoon to take on Coventry City with tickets just a fiver in advance.
Gillingham: Holy; Fuller, Zakuani, Ehmer, Ogilvie; Oldaker, Rees, Byrne; List (Charles-Cook, 87), Eaves, Hanlan
Unused subs: Hadler (GK), Garmston, Simpson, O’Neill, Parrett, Mbo
Accrington Stanley: Maxted; Donacien, Johnson, Hughes, Sykes (Smyth, 74); Clark, Brown, Richards-Everton, Conneely; Kee, McConville
Unused subs: Evtimov (GK), Nolan, Zanzala, Wood, Rodgers, Armstrong
Referee: Mr Craig Hicks