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Jordan Graham thanks team-mate John Akinde after scoring Gillingham equaliser at Shrewsbury against his former Wolves team-mate

Jordan Graham acknowledged the help from team-mate John Akinde after firing home Gillingham’s equalising goal on Saturday.

Akinde advised him where to stand as the Gills awaited a ball into the box and he ended up being in the right place at the right time to level the score against Shrewsbury.

Gillingham forward Jordan Graham scored Gillingham's equaliser on Saturday
Gillingham forward Jordan Graham scored Gillingham's equaliser on Saturday

“I owe it all to John,” said the 25-year-old.

“I was creeping towards the front post and he said ‘no, what are you doing?’ Get back here!’ He held two or three players and got a nick on it and I saw it drop on my left foot and I didn’t think I would miss.

“I need to be in those positions. I don’t think in the past I would have been there, I would have been around the edge of the box, so as long as I can get into those positions the chances will come and I just have to put them away. It is just about staying positive until the very last whistle and being in those right areas.”

Making his first league start in goal for Shrewsbury was Harry Burgoyne, a former team-mate of Graham’s from their time together at Wolves.

He was set to celebrate his first clean-sheet for the Shrews before Graham stepped up in stoppage-time.

“I know Harry very well,” Graham said. “We had years and years at Wolves and did lots of finishing drills and it would get quite competitive!”

His goal ensured the Gills left with a point but there were few celebrations after, with Graham saying: “We were quite disappointed with ourselves, especially first half, we felt slow, we gave them too much respect. I am not sure why, they are not an amazing side but we just sat back a little bit.

“We should have been pressing from the get-go but we didn’t and it led us to having a slow, sluggish first half and the gaffer wasn’t pleased at half-time.

“We knew we had to improve and second half we showed what we are about. I can’t remember them then having a shot really, we were on top from the 45th minute onwards, and games go like that sometimes, you hang in there and you get your goal in the end.”

Continual rain didn’t help as the Shrewsbury pitch turned heavy.

“Conditions were terrible,” said the forward. “The pitch was really heavy, I personally felt really leggy, it wasn’t ideal but if you want to get promoted you need to go to places like Shrewsbury, who are not one of the top teams in the league, and we need to be winning, or at least taking a point.

“On reflection we have to be happy with the late goal and to take a point, but we need to be going to those places and winning.”

Gillingham didn’t get any help from the referee on the day with Graham on the end of one of Shrewsbury’s more robust challenges. It led to frustration but the Gills kept their heads.

Graham said: “I think the referee was quite poor, there were quite a lot of obvious decisions that he missed. We felt collectively that we weren’t getting anything from anyone.

“The gaffer was making that quite clear, we felt we were making it clear but we didn’t feel like we were getting anything from him but that happens in football, you can’t use it as an excuse, we just had to hang in there.

“It is a credit to the boys, a lot are young, it would have been easy to let your head drop and get quite upset, but we stayed in there, kept everyone positive and we probably deserved that point in the end.”

Boss Steve Evans mentioned Graham’s fitness levels post-match and his summer training camp with Lewis Hamilton’s coach. The player himself preferred to praise the staff closer to home for getting him in top condition.

“I had a holiday in Monaco and the gaffer thinks Lewis Hamilton is my best mate!

“I came back in a reasonably decent fitness condition and Jamma (fitness coach James Russell) got me into some good shape. I feel in a good place. I am enjoying my football, scoring goals, helping the team as best I can and long may it continue.”

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