Sunday 22 November 2020

Gillingham 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

Lee Bowyer's boys returned from Priestfield with a precious point after going down in the second-half and looking like they would get nothing. From that perspective, Chuks Anneke's close-range blaster was a point gained but there is a stronger case that it was two points dropped.

The pre-match news was that Ryan Iniss would be missing due a quad injury that Bowyer says doesn't look good. That meant it was Gunter and Pratley in central defence and we never looked Inniss-Famewo confident. They did ok but their lack of togetherness and pace meant the Gills were encouraged to get the ball forward to Oliver and Graham in particular who had chances throughout the game. Having said that, Charlton still had more possession and when we did get forward, the Gills looked like they were struggling at the back. Perhaps that's what lead to the two penalties in the game.

Charlton really should have taken the lead in the first-half when Omar Bogle was shoved to the floor as he awaited a floated ball that was heading towards him at the back post. It was a clearcut penalty although I heard that the horrendously biased Gills commentary on I-Follow suggested "not sure of there was much contact there." I once won a Judo competition with an Ippon Seoni Nage throw that had less contact. What followed for Addicks fans was hard to watch. Omar Bogle grabbed the ball and told Washington he was taking the penalty in the manner schoolboys do when they are fouled for the penalty-kick - "it's mine." Washington, the nominated penalty taker looked like he remonstrated but it took a loud shout from Jackson on the touchline before Bogle handed the ball over. As Washington placed it and took his run up, I knew it wasn't going in. It looked very much like he would drive it low to the left and he that, but Jack Bonham also saw it and was down quickly to get a hand to it. 

It was a real shame because we had been building a bit of pressure with a sequence of attacks. Maddison had seen a superb long distance free-kick touched over by Bonham at full stretch and the Gills stopper did it again after a cheeky effort from Chris Gunter which he hit from the half-way line. Gillingham's best effort during the period was brilliantly saved by Amos. A clever ball to the back post found Dane Oliver unmarked but his powerful prod hit Amos on the line as he made a reflex star shape and he somehow got enough on it to keep it out.

After the break the game ebbed and flowed but we weren't creating enough chances in the Gills box and on 66 minutes the crook came out for Bogle, Maddison and Washington. Bogle can have no complaints after another poor showing and surely it's time we started with Anneke. I felt Maddison had done ok but he looked very short of pace at times and I am left wondering whether that is fitness or just all he's got. Washington also didn't do enough and I thought the subs, bringing on Aneke, Gilbey and Smyth were the correct ones.

Six minutes later though, Gillingham won a penalty and took the lead. Oliver chased a ball into the box and Gunter found himself desperately trying to catch-up. As Gunter entered the box behind Oliver, there was slightest tap of toe to heel and Oliver was upended. It looked accidental to me and given that the ball may well have gone out of play before Oliver caught it, I thought the ref might wave play on. However, there was a brief delay before the fourth official apparently gave it. It looked harsh but in his position, Gunter would have known that the slightest touch would go against him. Graham stepped up and beat Amos for the lead.

For ten minutes, Charlton upped the ante and after a string of corners, a ball in from the left found Smyth who ran across the box looking for space to shoot. As he got level with the right-hand post he played the ball around the corner to Anneke on the edge of the six yard box with a man behind. Credit to Chuks, as he moved the ball back with his right and ripped a left boot through it to fire high into the top of the goal giving Bonham no chance. 1-1, game on, and both sides went for it. Anneke might have got the winner after winning a header in the centre of goal with Bonham beaten but he couldn't get enough downward pressure on the ball and hit the top of the netting. 

Other results at the top were mixed which meant the draw didn't do us any real damage in the table. We are fifth with a game in hand on Ipswich and Hull and two on Portsmouth and Peterborough. We face bottom of the league Burton on Tuesday night and it's an opportunity to continue this run and improve our goal difference. We then go to Ipswich on Saturday to play one of our games in hand. If we can pick up the three points there we will be top of the table come 5pm on Saturday evening. No pressure lads.

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