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Gillingham 0 Swindon Town 0: Portsmouth loanee Haji Mnoga sent off early on in League 2 match at Priestfield that ends goalless

It’s another game without a goal for Gillingham but they were up against it early on against Swindon after a 10th minute dismissal.

Portsmouth loan defender Haji Mnoga was sent off after two bookable offences four minutes apart, leaving the Gills to scrap it out with Swindon short-handed for the majority of the game. Gillingham came close breaking their goal drought when Scott Kashket hit the post but had to settle for a point after a goalless draw.

Gillingham versus Swindon Town at Priestfield Stadium Picture: KPI (59071758)
Gillingham versus Swindon Town at Priestfield Stadium Picture: KPI (59071758)

Gills boss Neil Harris handed new loan recruit Mnoga a start, playing right-back in a 4-4-2 formation. The game came too early for fellow deadline day signing Robbie McKenzie, however.

It’s been five and a half years since fans of both clubs have been able to watch from the stands a long-running grudge match. Both teams started the day the wrong end of League 2.

Goals were the problem for the Gills, heading into the fixture with just one in six league outings. From the off they looked determined to put that right, captain Stuart O’Keefe getting after the Swindon defenders right from the off.

The Gills were winning possession off their opponents in good areas with early chances falling for Ben Reeves, Hakeeb Adelakun and Mikael Mandron without success.

That early hope suffered a major blow with just 10 minutes gone as debutant defender Hajo Mnoga picked up two bookings in quick succession after fouls on Ben Gladwin - taking him out with a trip - and Jacob Wakeling - bringing him down as he looked to break forward.

Gillingham versus Swindon Town at Priestfield Stadium Picture: KPI (59071767)
Gillingham versus Swindon Town at Priestfield Stadium Picture: KPI (59071767)

Mnoga didn’t give the referee Martin Woods much option after a miss-timed challenge on Wakeling so soon after his first caution. That dismissal led to winger Adelakun taking over at right-back and Swindon coming up against a sea of bodies as they looked to turn the tide.

Swindon struggled for an opening, one half chance falling for Jonny Williams but he blasted wide. Gillingham had coped well, defending in numbers and playing on the break. They should have led when Elkan Baggott played Kashket in beyond the visiting defence but the forward hesitated, pulled the ball back and cracked his effort against the upright.

Just before the half-time whistle went, Swindon did have a great chance of their own, Frazer Blake-Tracy running unopposed onto Gladwin’s cross but Gills keeper Glenn Morris was there with a great reflex save.

Despite being a man short, the Gills managed to create a number of good openings in the second half, with Kashket enjoying a fair bit of space. A wild shot over from 35 yards wasn’t the best use of that freedom, however. Harris’ men certainly weren’t settling for a goalless draw.

Scott Kashket reacts after hitting the woodwork Picture: KPI (59071761)
Scott Kashket reacts after hitting the woodwork Picture: KPI (59071761)

When Swindon got their chances, the finishing badly let them down. Marcel Lavinier missed the target by some distance with 16 minutes left after players lined up outside the box. Luke Jephcott also hooked a great effort over the bar from close range after Blake-Tracy headed at goal.

Swindon’s Tyrese Shade forced Morris into a save at his near post with an angled drive and with time running out had another shot outside the box, this time centrally, which the Gills keeper claimed comfortably.

Gillingham: Morris, Mnoga, Law, Ehmer, Baggott, O’Keefe, Williams, Reeves (MacDonald 72mins), Adelakun (Tutonda 89mins), Kashket (Wright 79mins), Mandron (Walker 72mins). Subs not used: Green, Turner.

Swindon: Brynn, Clayton, Reed, Gladwin, Williams, Blake-Tracy, MacDonald, Lavinier, Khan (Darcy 62mins), Wakeling (Jephcott 54mins), Shade. Subs not used: Brann, Hutton, Baudry, Aguair, Brennan.

Referee: Martin Woods

Attendance: 4,927 (671 away)

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