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Bolton Wanderers 2 Gillingham 2 match report: Late goals deny Gills after John Akinde and Kyle Dempsey score


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Gillingham let a two-goal lead slip at Bolton on Saturday as they were forced to settle for a point in League 1.

Goals from John Akinde and captain Kyle Dempsey put Gillingham in charge but Bolton struck back with a quickfire double late on as the visitors were left to rue a host of missed chances.

Kyle Dempsey - scored his first Gills goal since March at Bolton on Saturday. Picture: Andy Jones
Kyle Dempsey - scored his first Gills goal since March at Bolton on Saturday. Picture: Andy Jones

Gills made one change from the midweek win over Doncaster, Akinde starting with injury ruling out Mustapha Carayol.

The confidence from their Tuesday night success was clearly evident as they raced into a two-goal lead in the first 14 minutes.

Akinde's work-rate has been called into question by some fans previously but there was no denying his desire on an autumn Saturday afternoon in Bolton.

The Gills forward won the ball for his team on 11 minutes, tracking back to win possession and start a counter attack that saw Dempsey and Stuart O'Keefe combine to work the ball wide to Danny Lloyd.

When Lloyd crossed into the centre, Akinde had made his way forward and was able to turn the ball beyond keeper Joel Dixon, although his muted celebrations suggested it may yet go down as an own goal in the record books.

Three minutes later the away fans were in dreamland as a long throw into the penalty area was cleared only as far as the onrushing Dempsey, who strolled forward and fired low beyond keeper Joel Dixon from the edge of the box for his first goal since March.

While Bolton had plenty of possession they failed to create many clear-cut chances, keeper Jamie Cumming tipping over a deflected Josh Sheehan free-kick just before the break and forward Dapo Afolayan twice failing to find the target early on.

In contrasts, Gills looked a threat every time they broke. Dempsey's drive, Akinde's work-rate and Lloyd's crossing were all features of an excellent first half for the visitors.

Vadaine Oliver's header from Lloyd's corner lacked power before Jack Tucker saw his header from Dempsey's right-wing corner hit the bar and go behind for a goal kick.

O'Keefe again shot over from distance just before the break while Akinde tracked back and won the ball for a third time in first-half stoppages but was unable to find strike partner Oliver on the break, O'Keefe eventually firing over from the edge of the area.

Home fans booed their team off at the break but Gills knew they should have been home and dry at that stage, given the dominance and chances created.

A poor backpass by Sheehan presented Gills with an early chance to score a third goal in the second half but Oliver was unable to capitalise having anticipated the ball heading towards keeper Dixon and put his effort wide of the target.

Akinde continued to win the ball back regularly for the visitors while Oliver was having a shoot-out with Dixon, who twice denied him in quick succession - the second a particularly impressive block after he failed to hold onto the original shot.

Tucker and O'Keefe joined Dempsey in the book after the break and it took Bolton until midway through the second half to start to seriously test the Gillingham defence.

Lloyd Isgrove's cross failed to pick out a team-mate, Afolayan's shot was parried by Cumming and then Elias Kachunga headed weakly at the Gills keeper.

Gills had a major let-off with 15 minutes left when the unmarked MJ Williams somehow blazed over from close range after a right-wing corner was flicked on. Then Cumming had to be alert to turn over Elias Kachunga's right-foot drive from outside the penalty area.

Cumming produced his best stop with nine minutes left, turning aside Eoin Doyle's low left-foot shot that looked destined for the far corner.

Bolton deservedly pulled a goal back with four minutes left when Afolayan found the corner from the edge of the box.

Gills had five minutes of stoppage time to hold on but couldn't last more than 60 seconds as Declan John's cross was turned in by Kieran Lee from close range.

The home fans were off their feet in the closing stages, trying to suck the ball in for the winner but while they went home content with a point Gills were left to wonder what might have been having created enough chances to comfortably win two or three matches.

Gillingham: Cumming, Jackson, Ehmer, Bennett, McKenzie, O'Keefe, Tucker, Dempsey, Lloyd (Sithole 90+2mins), Akinde (Adshead 87mins), Oliver. Subs not used: Chapman, Kelman, Lee, Reeves, Lintott.

Bolton: Dixon, John, Williams, Santos, Johnston (Aimson 46mins), Sheehan (Bakayoko 53mins), Doyle, Afolayan, Lee, Isgrove, Kachunga (Delfouneso 83mins). Subs not used: Gilks, Brockbank, Thomason, Gordon.

Referee: Ben Toner.

Attendance: 13,807 (323 away).

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