Gills left disappointed after two late goals prevent them from sealing victory at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Gillingham were unlucky not to leave Bolton with all three points on Saturday, with the hosts scoring twice late on to secure a point in a 2-2 draw.
John Akinde and Kyle Dempsey had put Steve Evans’ men two goals to the good, and having defended valiantly for the vast majority of the second half and created several chances to increase their advantage, Bolton netted twice in the last few minutes to snatch a point.
The Gills boss made one change to the team that beat Doncaster during the week, with John Akinde coming in to replace the injured Mustapha Carayol.
Harvey Lintott came into the squad to provide defensive cover from the bench, with Charlie Kelman and Olly Lee providing attack options alongside Gerald Sithole.
The hosts enjoyed more of the possession in the early stages and created a couple of half chances with Dapo Afolayan’s clever flick at the near post failing to trouble Cumming, before an effort from range by the same player was struck off target.
A Kyle Dempsey free-kick was deflected up and over Joel Dixon for a corner, which was well dealt with by the Bolton defence as Vadaine Oliver looked to pounce.
However, Bolton’s resistance lasted a matter of moments when a cross from Danny Lloyd was flicked on by John Akinde at the near post. He certainly made contact before a vital deflection beat the Bolton stopper.
The Gills fans had hardly stopped celebrating when the visitors added a second. Dempsey had joined the attacking party; carried on his run inside the penalty area and drilled home a loose ball from 15 yards.
Bolton tried to respond immediately, but a few hopeful crosses into the box were well dealt with by Ehmer, O’Keefe and Rhys Bennett respectively.
Jamie Cumming made a routine stop from George Johnston before Joel Dixon did the same at the other end to thwart Oliver at the near post. On 29 minutes Jack Tucker struck the bar with a header following Dempsey’s pin-point corner with Cumming needed shortly after to tip over a Josh Sheehan free-kick.
Gills dominated proceedings in the main following their two goals, and they nearly bagged a third when O’Keefe’s shot from range narrowly cleared the bar, with a late Bolton header landing on top of Cumming’s net.
H/T: Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Gillingham
Vadaine Oliver had a great chance to make it three nil shortly after the interval when a loose ball back to Joel Dixon was intercepted by the striker. He tried to get around the Bolton stopper, succeeded in doing so and had space for a shot, but scuffed it slightly and the opportunity went begging.
Akinde, who had been a nuisance for the Bolton rearguard throughout, won possession back in the hosts own third and played a neat give and go with Danny Lloyd. After getting the ball back, John’s shot across the keeper was gathered.
Bolton progressively began to ask more questions and play higher up the pitch. Cumming did well to block a powerful shot towards his near posted before catching a lofted ball into the box.
The Gills stopper was seeing more of the ball as the half went on; a low drilled effort from Afolayan was very well saved before a follow up shot from Elias Kachunga was more comfortably gathered.
Although under pressure, Gills nearly bagged a third on 72 minutes when a ball into the box from Tucker took a touch off a Bolton defender, and Oliver was forced to strike it first time. He got plenty of power on it, but sent his effort over the bar.
A few minutes later and Bolton should have pulled one back; a corner into the penalty area was flicked on by Doyle, and from a yard out MJ Williams somehow missed the target. He had the goal at his mercy, but with only Cumming to beat, he fired over the top.
The Chelsea loanee was on hand moments later to palm over an effort from Kachunga, before producing an even better save low to his left to deny Eoin Doyle. Declan John’s free-kick on 85 minutes fell nicely for Santos at the back post who, after shifting to his right, fired inches wide of Cumming’s left post.
Gills were finally unlocked with a few minutes to play when Afolayan’s effort from 18 yards beat Cumming to his right side. It may have taken a touch on its way in, but it made sure Bolton got one back, and they completed the comeback in stoppage time when Kieron Lee tapped home from inside the box following a drilled cross from Declan John.
Bolton went in search of a late winner, but Gills ensured a point went back to Kent.
F/T: Bolton 2-2 Gillingham
Bolton: Dixon, John, Williams, Santos, Johnston (Aimson 46), Sheehan (Bakayoko 53), Afolayan, Lee, Isgrove, Kachunga (Delfouneso 84), Doyle.
Unused subs: Gilks, Gordon, Thomason, Brockbank
Gills: Cumming, Jackson, Ehmer, Bennett, McKenzie, Tucker, O’Keefe, Dempsey, Lloyd (Sithole 90+3), Oliver, Akinde (Adshead 87).
Unused subs: Chapman, Lintott, Reeves, Lee, Kelman.
Referee: Mr B Toner