Conor Masterson scores a second half header to ensure the points were shared at ME7.
Conor Masterson’s thumping strike saw Gillingham pick up a point in a 1-1 draw against Walsall at the Priestfield Stadium.
Walsall took the lead just after the hour mark. The goal came when Shad Ogie was penalised for a handball inside the box, and Isaac Hutchinson stepped up to send his penalty into the bottom right corner.
Masterson brought the Gills level with 13 minutes remaining when he thumped a shot into the top corner from close range.
Josh Walker made his first Gillingham start, leading the line with Oli Hawkins. George Lapslie returned to the starting XI in the place of Dom Jefferies, who missed out due to injury. Deadline-day signing Jorge Hurtado was named among the substitutes.
Walker had a half-chance in the seventh minute. The ball was switched towards Remeao Hutton, who found himself in acres of space. He brought it forward before playing an excellent through ball for Walker to get on the end of. Unfortunately, the slight delay to get a shot away allowed a Walsall defender to get back into position to block the effort.
In the 25th minute, Scott Malone played a pass in behind the Walsall defence for Walker to latch onto. He found himself one-on-one with Owen Evans but could not get a shot away, allowing a defender to get a toe on the ball to take it away from him.
Josh Gordon had a huge opportunity moments later. Gills could not clear a ball into the box, and it dropped to the forward who fired his volley over the crossbar from around eight yards out.
Jake Turner was called into action shortly before half-time. A cross into the box was floated in the direction of Hutchinson, who rose the highest to head goalward. Fortunately, it lacked the power to cause Turner any issues.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 0-0 Walsall
Hutchinson had a big chance to give Walsall the lead as the visitors broke forward early in the half. Jack Earing delivered a cross from the left that fell to the unmarked Hutchinson, who saw his low-driven effort well-saved by Turner.
The visitors were awarded a penalty just after the hour. Walsall won possession high up the pitch before getting into the Gillingham penalty area. A Walsall played managed to get a shot away, which was blocked by Ogie, who had dived in front of the ball, blocking with his arm.
From the resulting spot kick, Hutchinson made no mistake, slotting his penalty into the right bottom corner just out of Turner’s reach.
Following the goal, Gillingham made three substitutions, with Hurtado, Jonny Williams and Tim Dieng replacing Walker, Connor Mahoney and Lapslie respectively.
In the 77th minute, Conor Masterson smashed Gills back onto level terms. Ogie’s long throw into the penalty area from the left fell to Masterson, who made no mistake in unleashing a powerful strike that beat Evans from the moment it left his boot.
The hosts should have been in front moments later. Hutton’s corner from the right found Masterson, who saw his goal-bound header well-blocked by a Walsall defender. The ball then dropped favourably to Ogie, who smashed his shot over the crossbar from close range.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 1-1 Walsall
Gillingham: Turner, Hutton, Masterson, Ehmer, Ogie, Malone, Coleman, Lapslie (J. Williams 64’), Mahoney (Dieng 64’), Walker (Hurtado 63’), Hawkins (Nadesan 90+5’)
Unused Substitutes: Morris, McKenzie, Clark
Walsall: Evans, Knowles, Okagbue, Farquharson, Daniels, L. Gordon, Hutchinson, Comley, Earing (Stirk 72’), Faal (Matt 67’), J. Gordon (Tierney 77’)
Unused Substitutes: Smith, James-Taylor, Allen, Adegboyega
Attendance: 5710 (190 away fans)
Referee: Charles Breakspear