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Walsall 1 Gillingham 1 - match report

Cody McDonald celebrates with Adebayo Akinfenwa Picture: Barry Goodwin
Cody McDonald celebrates with Adebayo Akinfenwa Picture: Barry Goodwin

Cody McDonald snatched a priceless point at Walsall for the Gills on Monday.

Former Gills loanee Febian Brandy had fired the home side ahead in the second half but McDonald levelled late on.

It was McDonald’ 16 goal of the season for the Gills.

The Gills hadn’t won at Walsall since 1992, failing to secure a victory in their previous 13 attempts.

That run was extended to 14 after Monday’s draw.

Chris Whelpdale was making his first start for Gillingham since mid-February and was one of three changes to the team that kicked-off against Tranmere on Friday.

Bradley Dack and Craig Fagan were also brought into the XI.

With Walsall already out of contention for a play-off spot and well clear of the relegation fight, they had only pride to play for. The Gills were all-but safe, following the win over Tranmere.

Gillingham failed to test the home keeper during a very uneventful first half but the hosts didn’t do too much better.

The best the Gills could muster in the opening 45 minutes was a header over the bar from Leon Legge and a deflected shot from Jake Hessenthaler that wasn’t going to alter the scoreline.

Walsall, who were trying unsuccessfully to pass their way through the Gills, took until the 44th minute to have a chance on target, with Craig Westcarr’s header being saved by Stuart Nelson at the second attempt.

Moments before that Brandy fired a shot narrowly over.

Walsall put the pressure on early in the second half, with Nelson pulling off a double save to deny Westcarr and then Brandy. Moments later Brandy came close to converting James Chambers’ cross.

The hosts maintained the pressure, with Paul Downing heading over a corner. It wasn’t long before Walsall took the lead.

With 55 minutes gone Westcarr ran through and had a shot saved by Nelson but the ball ran loose and Brandy was on hand to slot it home.

With an hour gone and still without a shot on target, Taylor changed things around upfront, with Akinfenwa and Weston replacing Dack and Whelpdale.

But the best chances continued to belong to Walsall. Westcarr smashed a shot against the post after turning and firing towards goal from 25 yards. Sam Mantom also bent a shot just wide with 15 minutes left.

Gillingham’s first shot on target came soon after. Weston ran down the flank, cut inside and sent a low shot into the arms of keeper Richard O’Donnell.

Despite few chances, the Gills levelled with six minutes left. Akinfenwa sent McDonald through on goal and he lifted the shot over O’Donnell to make it 1-1.

Gillingham: Nelson, Martin, Hewitt, Barrett, Legge, Gregory, Hessenthaler, Whelpdale (Weston 60mins), Dack (Akinfenwa 60mins), Fagan (Lee 75mins), McDonald. Subs not used: Linganzi, Smith, Harriman, Baxter.

Walsall: O’Donnell, Butler, Chambers, Mantom, Lalkovic, Westcarr, Downing, Benning, Chambers, Sawyers (Ngoo 75mins), Brandy (Bakayoko 90mins). Subs not used: Taylor, Featherstone, Lewis, Bazendale, McQuilkin.

Attendance: 3,890 (323 away)

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