Points shared on the opening day.
Danny Lloyd and Vadaine Oliver will debate on who scored Gillingham's equaliser on Saturday as Gills clinched a deserved point in a 1-1 draw against Lincoln City.
Oliver, or maybe Lloyd, managed to prod home over the line following a goal line scramble in which Vadaine Oliver was also involved as the club welcomed fans back to MEMS Priestfield Stadium for the first time in a competitive fixture since February 2020.
Tayo Edun had initially put Lincoln in front with an emphatic strike. Jamie Cumming did well to save the first shot, but the rebound came back to the visitors and Edun was on hand to smash into the roof of the net.
Gills bossed possession for long periods but were unable to find a winner.
Steve Evans named Kyle Dempsey in the starting XI for the first game of the season. The Gills skipper was an injury doubt, having missed the midweek fixture against Norwich.
Ben Reeves was fit enough to be named on the bench, as was Mustapha Carayol, who got international clearance just in time to feature.
Edun put Lincoln in front during the early stages of the game. The visitors got in behind the Gills defence and played a ball across the goal. Jamie Cumming did brilliantly getting down and saving the first effort. However, Lincoln were first to the rebound, and Edun blasted into the top corner leaving Cumming with little hope.
After some nice build-up play from the visitors, Connor McGrandles had a shot on target. He was given the ball with space inside the area, but his effort was a tame one and a comfortable save for Cumming.
The Gills came close to equalising twice in a matter of seconds soon after. The first was from Vadaine Oliver, who headed against the face of the woodwork following a cross towards the back post. The rebound fell to Max Ehmer, but his fierce effort was saved by the oncoming Josh Griffiths.
Oliver came close again in the 42nd minute, but his left-footed effort was saved by the legs of Griffiths.
Moments later, Danny Lloyd, or possibly Oliver, got the Gills on level terms. Kyle Dempsey’s free-kick was blocked, and Daniel Phillips managed to put the ball back in the danger area. Oliver was on hand to try and put past Griffiths. The ball may have already crossed the line before Lloyd had a second bite of the cherry. It will be one for the dubious goals panel.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 1-1 Lincoln City
The Gills started the second half brightly and put some pressure on the Lincoln goal. However, following some set pieces, they couldn't sufficiently test Griffiths.
Anthony Scully thought he was about to put Lincoln back in front. Following a cross into the box that was flicked on, he looked to have a clear shot at goal having cut inside with some clever footwork. However, his effort was met by a brilliant block from David Tutonda to deny him.
Oliver had the Gills first opportunity of the second half. However, his speculative snapshot from 20 yards went well wide of the goal.
Lloyd came close just after the hour. Gills hit the visitors on the counter-attack, and Dempsey played the attacker through on goal with an excellent through pass. Lloyd ran into the area, and his shot towards the near post was caught by Griffiths.
Oliver had a great chance to put Gills ahead in the 67th minute. He beat the offside trap and was first to a through ball through the middle. However, his attempt to lob the Lincoln keeper was read, and he was able to gather and clear.
Mustapha Carayol was brought on in the 69th minute and almost scored with his first touches. He received the ball just inside the box and cut in on his right foot. He tried to put a low drilled effort into the near bottom corner, but it went just wide as Griffiths was left scrambling.
Cumming did well to deny Regan Poole in the 89th minute. A cross towards the back post allowed Poole to get on the ball without pressure. He smashed a shot at goal, but the Chelsea loanee was equal to it.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 1-1 Lincoln City
Gillingham: Cumming, Bennett, Ehmer, Tucker, Tutonda, Phillips, O’Keefe (Sithole 83’), Dempsey, Lee (Reeves 70’), Lloyd (Carayol 69’), Oliver
Unused Substitutes: Chapman, Lintott, Maghoma, Akehurst
Lincoln City: Griffiths, Poole, Jackson, Melbourne, Edun, Bramall (Adelakun 65’), Scully, Sorenson (Bishop 80’), Bridcutt, McGrandles, Hopper
Unused Substitutes: Long, Montsma, Sanders, Jones, Longdon
Referee: Thomas Bramall
Attendance: 4837 (599 Lincoln fans)