By Jack Nolan
April 19 2008
A stunning late equaliser from Bristol Rover’s Steve Elliot denied Gillingham a crucial victory at the Memorial Ground. The Gills took the lead thanks to a John Nutter header, and now find themselves three points from safety still with two games of the League One season left to play.
Gillingham manager Mark Stimson recalled John Nutter and Georges Ba to the squad, whilst Dennis Oli and Barry Fuller didn’t even make the sixteen. However, there was an unexpected return to the side for Gary Mulligan.
Bristol Rovers dominated theopening periods of the game but missed several good chances. The first fell to Sean Rigg who failed to take advantage of Richards’ poor back header on nine minutes and then Derek Stillie, in for the injured Simon Royce, pulled off an impressive save to deny Richard Lambert’s effort.
The Gills came closest to opening the scoring on the half-hour mark, when Georges Ba headed Nicky Southall’s corner kick against the crossbar, then the follow up was smashed over by Kevin Maher.
Mark Stimson’s men did manage to break the deadlock nine minutes from the interval however, when John Nutter scored his first goal for the club. Nicky Southall’s cross was met bythe head of the Gillingham full-back to give The Gills a crucial lead at thebreak.
Gillingham did come agonizingly close to doubling their lead shortly before half-time, when Andrew Crofts’ effort was cleared of the line by Rover’s defender Aaron Lescott –brother of Everton’s Joleon.
The Gills came out after the break knowing scores weren’t going in their for them, but were put under pressure by the hosts – who had already all but secured their League One status in the week.
Rovers came closest to equalising on 70 minutes, but Rovers’ Bryon Anthony somehow managed to head over the Gillingham goal from point-blank range.
With The Gills sensing awell overdue away victory, Rovers scored five minutes from time when defender Steven Elliot smashed a stunning thirty-five yard into the top corner of Stillie’s goal.
The Gills never looked like regaining their advantage and eventually had to settle for just a point at the Memorial Ground. With Crewe and Yeovil now looking safe after their victories, The Gills will hope for slip-ups from Millwall and Cheltenham following defeats for them today. The Gills face a fiery encounter with Swindon Town next Saturday at Priestfield, then a tricky away finale at Leeds. Meanwhile, Bournemouth earned their fifth victory on the bounce today and are now just one point off The Gills and seem reluctant too accept relegation.