Express & Star

Gillingham 1 Walsall 1 - Report

Walsall served up a successive draw as they had to settle for a share of the spoils against Gillingham at Priestfield Road.


Isaac Hutchinson maintained his 100 percent record from the spot on the hour-mark after Shadrach Ogie was penalised for handling the ball inside the box.

However, Connor Masterson was on the prowl inside the box to punish some lacklustre Walsall defending from Gillingham's long throw.

Josh Gordon was handed his first start since returning on loan from Burton Albion as Douglas James-Taylor dropped to the bench.

Owen Evans retained his place between the sticks after making his comeback in the home draw against Sutton and made his 75th appearance for the Saddlers.

Walsall started on the front foot but failed to profit from a succession of early corners with Donervon Daniels coming closest when he volleyed wide of Jake Turner's left-hand post.

Gillingham threatened sporadically on the counter-attack and Priestley Farquharson had to be quick on his heels to deal with the danger. First, Farquharson cut out Remeao Hutton';s ball down the inside right channel with Oli Hawkins on the prowl, before he won a footrace with Josh Walker to divert George Lapslie's sumptuous through ball away from his path.

Walsall forced Gillingham deep and wing-backs Hutton and Scott Malone rarely ventured into the attacking third.

The Saddlers got most of their joy by overloading the flanks with Josh Gordon dropping into support Tom Knowles and Isaac Hutchinson on the right, whilst Mo Faal served a similar function on the left for Jack Earing and Liam Gordon.

Isaac Hutchinson celebrates his goal

Those combinations led to chances, but not anything clear-cut. Faal saw his effort diverted over by Max Ehmer and Knowles lost his footing when he was sent into the penalty area by Faal.

The best chance fell to Isaac Hutchinson, who scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture, but Walsall's top scorer was unable to get enough purchase on his header from Earing's delivery.

Walsall lost a little composure at times during the closing stages in the first half, although the best Gillingham could offer was Shadrach Ogie's wayward shot from distance.

Both sides wrestled for the early dominance after the break, and Hutchinson was presented with his second chance when Turner emerged to foil him at close quarters.

Hutchinson had the chance to open the scoring from the penalty spot when his effort was adjudged to have been handled by Ogie.

The midfielder confidently converted into the bottom corner to score his 12th of the campaign and 20th for the Saddlers in total.

Sadler shuffled his pack with the introductions of Ryan Stirk, Ross Tierney and Jamille Matt, but Walsall's failure to deal with a long throw ultimately presented Gillingham with a prime chance to equalise.

Masterson needed no invitation and rifled a powerful half volley into the roof of the net to become Gillingham's joint-leading scorer in the league on four goals.

The game hung in the balance in the final moments and both teams threatened a winner, especially Gillingham, who were being roared on by the home crowd.

Ogie lashed over from Masterson's knockdown, before debutant Jorge Hurtado was kept at bay by the outstretched leg of Daniels.

Ryan Stirk came closest for Walsall late on but was unable to steer fellow substitute Ross Tierney's clipped cross on target.


Gillingham (3-5-2): Turner; Masterson, Ehmer, Ogie; Hutton, Mahoney (Dieng 63), Coleman, Lapslie (Williams 63), Malone; Hawkins (Nadesan 90 +5), Walker (Hurtado 63).

Subs not used: Morris, Clark, McKenzie.

Walsall (3-1-4-2): Evans; Okagbue, Farquharson, Daniels; Comley; Knowles, Hutchinson, Earing (Stirk 71), L Gordon; J Gordon (Tierney 76), Faal (Matt 66).

Subs not used: Smith, Adegboyega, Allen, James-Taylor.

Referee: Charles Breakspear

Attendance: 5,710 (190)