Published: 17:00, 09 November 2013
An injury-time goal from Bradley Dack ensured Gillingham retained their place in the FA Cup after a poor display against non-league Brackley.
Brackley took a 67th-minute lead with a Joe Martin own-goal before Dack slid home to level the scores with six minutes of injury-time played.
The Gills had failed to test Brackley’s veteran goalkeeper Billy Turley in the opening half as the visitors came closest to breaking the deadlock.
Peter Taylor, who was taking charge for the final time on an interim basis, made three changes to the team for the visit of the Skrill North outfit.
Despite hinting at possibly starting leading scorer Danny Kedwell in central defence, Taylor in the end went for young Callum Davies to replace suspended Leon Legge.
Midfielder Steven Gregory replaced Danny Hollands – out of the squad as part of the loan agreement from Charlton – while Cody McDonald came into the team as Amine Linganzi was missing with a groin injury.
Brackley lined up with a familiar face leading their attack. Gary Mulligan had shaken off a foot injury to line up against the club where he made more than 100 appearances between 2006 and 2009.
Three divisions separated the teams before kick-off, with Brackley second in their table after just one defeat all season. There was little sign of that gap as the visitors took the game to their League 1 hosts from the start.
It was Brackley’s first-ever competitive meeting with a Football League side, but they were far from overawed.
An early cross narrowly eluded that head of Mulligan and, with five minutes gone, a looping shot from Brackley striker Steve Diggin bounced off the bar.
The visitors kept on attacking and only a great save from Stuart Nelson kept out Steve Towers’ effort as he fired at goal on the spin.
Taylor had been keen to see his team start the game well, having disappointed in the first 45 minutes last time out in the league against Carlisle. His calls for better appeared to have fallen on deaf ears.
For the second weekend running the Gills failed to register an on-target shot in the first 45 minutes. Kedwell was the man with their only three chances, with all three going wide of the mark. The third of those was a sitter – but he put the chance into the empty Town End.
In the opening stages of the second half Kedwell’s glancing header had to be saved by Turley, but at the other end Martin blocked what looked destined to be a certain goal as Glenn Walker took aim.
With the scores remaining level on the hour, Taylor made a triple switch, bringing on striker Adebayo Akinfenwa along with midfielders Dack and new signing John Mousinho. Just seconds after the re-start Brackley took the lead.
A cross from the left was flicked on by Mulligan and, with Nelson stranded, the ball bounced in - Martin seemingly having the final touch as Diggin followed in.
Kedwell came close to scoring but Brackley managed to hack the ball clear as the Gills No.9 tried to bundle a cross over the line. At the other end, Nelson had to be alert to claw Walker’s free-kick away as it headed towards the top corner.
Akinfenwa headed a chance narrowly wide with five minutes left and Dack’s shot was saved by the feet of Turley. In stoppage-time Brackley almost doubled the lead, with Mousinho clearing off the line from Ben Mills.
But with seconds left a cross a cross from Akinfenwa was turned in by Dack to save Gillingham's blushes.
Gillingham: Nelson, Harriman, Martin, Barrett, Davies, Gregory, Lee, Whelpdale, Weston, Kedwell, McDonald. Subs not used: Howard, Carter, Hessenthaler, German.
Brackley: Turley, Reid, McDonald (Nisevic 46mins), Sharpe, Austin, Towers, Solkhon, Sandy, Walker, Mulligan (Mills 70mins), Diggin (Jarvis 89mins). Subs not used: Story, Odhiambio, Worby, Griffin.
More by this authorLuke Cawdell
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