by Alex Hoad
Ten-man Gillingham clung on to salvage a point at Accrington in a game which they led at the break before seeing keeper Stuart Nelson sent-off.
Gills were good value for their 1-0 half-time lead, given to them by Myles Weston’s fifth goal of the season, and Matt Fish was within inches of making it 2-0 with a rasping volley on 67 minutes which was deflected narrowly over.
However the turning point came when a long ball forward on 70 minutes turned Callum Davies towards his own goal and he was pipped to the ball by Padraig Amond, who had only been on the field for 10 seconds.
Amond then prodded the bouncing ball past the outrushing Nelson 16 yards out with the keeper appearing to bring him down and subsequently being sent-off for a professional foul by referee Scott Duncan.
Beattie held his nerve to slot past sub keeper Tommy Forecast, on for the sacrificed Charlie Lee.
Accrington continued to pin the visitors back in their own half and George Miller lashed narrowly over with Forecast stranded while Romuald Boco was within inches of winning it in the final minute when his fizzing shot from 25 yards struck the outside of the post and the same player curled a shot over from the edge of the box in stoppage-time.
Weston had slammed Gills ahead three minutes before half-time when he cleverly spun in the area and rifled past Stanley stopper Ian Dunbavin.
The ball broke to the striker – in for Ben Strevens - after Charlie Lee’s throw down the left touchline had been hoisted into the area by Danny Jackman, and he made no mistake, swivelling and registering his fifth of the campaign.
Weston had earlier stung Dunbavin’s palms on nine minutes with a rising drive from 20 yards which was straight at the keeper and scuffed a shot from 12 yards after a square ball by Deon Burton.
Burton, Lewis Montrose, Matt Fish and the recalled Romain Vincelot all sent pot-shots narrowly wide of Dunbavin’s goal.
At the other end Stuart Nelson was largely untroubled, though he had to dive to stop a drive from the left from the lively Romuald Boco on eight minutes and could only watch as Stanley striker James Beattie – making his full home debut – pulled a shot to the left of goal from 10 yards after Gills failed to cut out a low cross from the right.
Callum Davies also came to the rescue with a timely challenge shortly after the half-hour after a good break involving Boco and Lee Molyneux.
Gillingham: Nelson, Fish, Jackman, Davies, Barrett, Montrose, Whelpdale (C Allen 79mins), Vincelot, Lee (Forecast 70mins), Burton (Frampton 90mins), Weston. Subs not used: Essam, Dack, Strevens, Birchall.
Accrington Stanley: Dunbavin, Winnard, Liddle, Atkinson, Nsiala, Miller, Joyce, Lindfield, Molyneux (Amond 69mins), Boco, Beattie. Subs not used: Dawber, Murphy, Schofield, Dixon, Gray, Hatfield.
Attendance: 1,624 (267 from Gillingham)
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