Fleetwood net in second half stoppage time to stop Gills recording the double over Cod Army.
Tom Eaves netted his 18th goal of the season as Gills fought for a hard earned point against Fleetwood at Highbury on Saturday afternoon.
Two goals in the final ten minutes meant the spoils were shared on a wet and windy afternoon in Lancashire. A battling Gills performance was rewarded when Tom Eaves headed in a Barry Fuller cross but Gills were pegged back in the last minute as a James Husband free-kick crashed in to the net as it finished 1-1.
Gillingham made one change to the side that beat Wycombe last week, with the injured Billy Bingham being replaced by Dean Parrett; Bingham looking set to miss a number of weeks with a torn calf. Josh Rees and Billy King also returned to the bench as Steve Lovell side looked to build on a positive couple of weeks.
Gillingham started brightly at Highbury and after an early corner from Graham Burke was cleared a resulting long throw was also cleared away with Brandon Hanlan looking to pounce. As the game settled down, it became clear Parrett was sitting in midfield at the bottom of the diamond, a straight swap for Bingham.
In the tenth minute a ball over the top of the Fleetwood defence sent Tom Eaves clear down the right-hand side, the forward did well to cut back in but his goal bound shot was blocked at the last attempt by a Fleetwood defender.
The host’s first real chance of the game fell to Ashley Hunter, but the winger’s low effort was blocked by Luke O’Neill down the Gills right hand side, a potentially goal saving interception from the full-back.
In the 27th minute a Ched Evans free-kick hit Brandon Hanlan in the wall before Hunter blazed the rebound over the bar and over the stand. Minutes later and a scramble in the Gills box was only cleared when Connor Ogilvie crucially got in the way, before the ref eased any fears as he blew for a free-kick.
After a quiet period in breezy conditions on the North West coast, the Gills were to come close to breaking the deadlock. Slick passing football between Lopes, Hanlan and Fuller saw the latter cross for Mark Byrne, but just as he was about to compose himself, a late tackle took the fizz out of the ball and it was cleared.
As the break approached Fleetwood started to grow in to the game and another chance for Hunter, again on his left foot, was denied by Tomas Holy, who cleared the ball with his left leg.
In what proved to be the last ‘action’ of the half an altercation between Dean Parrett and Ched Evans resulted in both men being booked. Gills had started the half well, but the play-off contenders had grown in to the game in tough conditions in Lancashire as the Gills went in all square.
As the conditions continued to deteriorate at Highbury Stadium Leo Da Silva Lopes bought down Lewie Coyle just outside the box, with the home fans calling for a red card and penalty, the referee gave a free-kick and only brandished a yellow. The resulting free-kick hit the wall and was cleared.
Fleetwood were beginning to up the tempo in the wind and rain, but Gills were holding firm as a number of set pieces were cleared without trouble.
The first change was made by the hosts who introduced Ashley Nadesan in place of Nathan Sheron and the winger nearly made an immediate impact as his flicked effort from inside the box was comfortably saved by Holy.
Gills were to come close to breaking the deadlock in the 68th minute. Build up play involving Tom Eaves and Barry Fuller down the left-hand side resulted in the full-back crossing to Hanlan in but his effort went just past the post. At the other end, Jack Sowerby saw his tame effort easily held by Holy in the Gills goal.
Hanlan was to come close again, Eaves once again involved but his effort was scrambled behind for a corner kick. Steve Lovell’s first change saw Elliott List replace Hanlan and List almost made an immediate impact but his header from inside the box missed the target.
Gills were to come close again with their next attack – Eaves was released down the right but under pressure from a number of Fleetwood defenders the chance fizzled out with the striker incredibly honest to remain on his feet after receiving contact.
An impressive spell was to pay dividends as Gills took the lead in the 83rd minute. Graham Burke played in Barry Fuller down the left hand side – the experienced full back stood a ball up to the back post and there was Tom Eaves to nod home. 0-1
Fleetwood nearly responded immediately through Paddy Madden, but he headed over after a ball was crossed in from the right-hand channel.
The hosts were to get a leveller in the 90th minute. Barry Fuller bought down his man on the edge of the box. With everyone inside the penalty area, James Husband stepped up and curled home an unstoppable effort in to the top corner to draw Fleetwood level.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle, Eastham, Burns, Evans, Souttar, Madden, , Husband, Sowerby, Hunter (Garner 72), Sheron (Nadeson 62)
Unused subs: Jones, Rydel ,Hunter, Biggins, Holt.
Gillingham: Holy, Fuller, Ehmer, Ogilvie, O’Neill, Byrne, Lopes, Parrett, Burke, Hanlan (List 80), Eaves.
Unused subs: Hadler, King, Rees, Campbell, Charles-Cook, Reilly.
Referee: Mr Neil Hair