Published: 20:45, 26 July 2019
| Updated: 21:05, 26 July 2019
A goal from Gillingham’s recent signing Mikael Mandron squared a competitive friendly against Southend on Friday night.
Mandron headed home for the Gills in the first half after they had gone behind to an Isaac Hutchinson goal.
It was the first of Gills’ weekend double header - with a game to follow against Stevenage on Saturday.
The Gills included latest arrival Alex Jakubiak - a loan signing from Watford - in their starting line-up.
He almost made an instant impact, netting with just two minutes gone from a Mandron cross, but referee Carl Brook had already spotted an infringement in the build-up.
It was a bright opening from the Gills, with another newcomer Mark Marshall lively down the right flank. Matty Willock, back from illness, was also in the midst of much of Gills’ brightest play, obviously keen to make up for lost time.
Marshall had the best of the early chances, racing onto Jakubiak’s pass, but he dragged the shot wide.
Despite being second best, Southend took the lead, as they capitalised on an unlucky slip from Max Ehmer. He was about to receive a short pass from Lee Hodson but when he lost his footing, Charlie Kelman nipped in and then square for Hutchinson who had a simple finish.
There were a couple of robust Southend challenges in the half and O’Keefe took one full on the shin. He was able to run it off, thankfully.
Visiting keeper Nathan Bishop made a great block to deny Ehmer after he directed Willock’s cross goalwards. The chance had been created after Marshall’s free-kick and follow-up were blocked, but Willock and Mandran were alert to keep the move alive.
Gillingham got a deserved equaliser when former Southend trainee O’Keefe’s deep left-sided cross was met by Mandron on the stretch and his header went in past Bishop off the underside of the bar.
Southend had a couple of chances late in the half but neither troubled Gills keeper Jack Bonham. He took a shot low down from Kelman and then watched as Hutchinson shot wide.
Jakubiak had the best of the early second half chances, drilling a low shot just wide after the impressive Mandran had done well to bring Ehmer's long ball down and play it into his path.
At the other end Bonham had to stay alert and got down well to save from Hutchinson with almost an hour gone.
It was a good spell for Southend and Bonham was again called into action, saving Theo Robinson’s powerful effort after Isaac Buckley-Ricketts had seen his effort blocked by Barry Fuller.
The game continued to be well contested and Mandron was given a talking to from the referee after an over-zealous challenge.
Gillingham gave trialist striker Norman Wabo 20 minutes at the end. He might have won the Gills a free-kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box had the referee seen, or penalised, the blatant shove.
Evans remonstrated with Blues boss Kevin Bond after Connor Ogilvie was floored by a leading arm. Regan Charles-Cook was also upended late on and had to stop himself from reacting.
Southend came close to an 89th minute winner, attacking Gills on the counter, but Stephen McLaughlin shot wide under pressure. At the other end Ehmer got a head on Ben Allen’s long throw but the ball drifted wide of the post.
Gillingham: Bonham, Hodson (Woods 69mins), Fuller, Ehmer, Ogilvie, O'Keefe, Willock, Charles-Cook, Marshall (Allen 69mins), Mandron, Jakubiak (Wabo 69mins). Subs not used: Walsh, Garmston, Jones, Tucker, List, Cisse, Oldaker, Ndjoli, Hanlan.
Southend: Bishop, Howard (Taylor 80mins), White, Kiernan, Blackman (Goodship 82mins), Buckley-Ricketts (McLaughlin 67mins), Yearwood (Mohamed 66mins), Hyam (Mantom 67mins) Hutchinson, Robinson, Kelman (Humphrys 70mins). Sub not used: Oxley.