Andy Frampton shows his frustration Picture: Barry Goodwin
by Luke Cawdell
Gillingham’s promotion hopes were ended at Northampton on Saturday.
A draw at the League 2 strugglers wasn’t enough as results elsewhere conspired to finally end any hope of getting into the play-offs.
Lewis Wilson put the hosts ahead late in the first half but Jo Kuffour levelled things up for the Gills in the second half.
A draw looked as though it could have been enough to keep hopes alive for another week but Crewe’s late equaliser at Torquay left them too far adrift and facing League 2 football again next season.
The game started at a lively pace as Michael Jacobs put an effort over for Northampton with just 10 seconds played and Chris Whelpdale, at the other end, shot wide twice in the opening moments.
An injury to a linesman delayed the match for six minutes early in the first half as he received treatment before being replaced.
Gillingham’s best chance of the first half fell to Charlie Lee, as Danny Kedwell laid the ball off to the midfielder, but home keeper Neal Kitson got enough on the shot to turn it over the bar.
Northampton had the better of the opportunities and Jacobs cracked a shot against the post with 25 minutes gone. Gills keeper Paulo Gazzaniga got a vital touch to send it onto the woodwork and looked on with relief as Wilson’s follow-up went narrowly wide.
Wilson was however celebrating a goal 15 minutes later as he stabbed home after the ball fell kindly to him following Gazzaniga’s save from Toni Silva.
A low shot from the edge of the box skimmed the outside of Gillingham’s post just before the half-time whistle sounded. At half-time results elsewhere were going well for the Gills but Andy Hessenthaler’s team needed a big second half to stand any chance of capitalising.
Gillingham pulled level with 54 minutes gone as Kuffour claimed his first goal since January 21, stabbing home the ball from close-range after a goalmouth scramble.
The Gills had a good chance to go ahead, when Gazzaniga’s long kick opened Northampton up, but Lewis Montrose was unable to get his shot on target under pressure from a home defender.
There were nervy moments for the Gills as Luke Guttridge fired wide, Akinfenwa had a shot blocked and Brett Williams headed an effort over the bar.
At the other end the 620 travelling fans saw Danny Jackman curl a free-kick just wide and then with seven minutes left were left angry as referee Keith Stroud failed to play advantage as Rowan Vine was in on goal. Instead he stopped play to book Northampton’s Clarke Carlisle for an earlier foul.
Gillingham: Gazzaniga, Martin, Fish, Frampton, Essam, Jackman, Montrose, Lee (Weston 78mins), Whelpdale, Kuffour (Vine 74mins), Kedwell (Oli 86mins). Subs not used: King, Spiller.
Northampton: Kitson, Charles, Tozer, Carlisle, Adams, Jacobs, Wilson (Williams 67mins), Silva, Johnson, Guttridge, Akinfenwa (Langmead 83mins). Subs not used: Webster, Robinson, Snedker.
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