Published: 17:00, 22 February 2020
| Updated: 21:25, 22 February 2020
Gillingham extended their unbeaten run to 15 games with a battling draw at Lincoln on Saturday.
It was a bruising League 1 encounter that kept referee Tom Nield on his guard throughout.
But Gillingham will no doubt see it as a point gained on a day when the windy weather dictated the standard of football for long periods.
Gills boss Steve Evans made two changes to his line-up from the midweek win at Southend. He resisted the temptation to start John Akinde against the side he left only one month earlier with midfielder Matty Willock also dropping to the bench.
In came Alfie Jones and Olly Lee to bolster the midfield against a Lincoln side who had gone six matches without a win. Goals had been hard to come by for the hosts too, until they netted three times at Accrington seven days earlier. Their problem that day was conceding four times.
Former Peterborough and Boston manager Evans is no stranger to these parts and he quickly took on the role of comedy villain on the touchline. In Evans’ defence there was plenty to wind him up in the first 15 minutes of this contest.
Lincoln almost had a seventh-minute lead when referee Nield wasn’t even watching as Gills keeper Jack Bonham had his clearance blocked on the edge of the penalty area by Tom Hopper.
It’s a free-kick every time but the referee got no help from his assistant either, much to the annoyance of Evans. Fortunately for Gills, Jorge Grant’s cross from the left was cut out by Jack Tucker as he looked to give Hopper an open goal.
Things went up another level when Connor Ogilvie used his body to see the ball out of play for a throw-in minutes later. Anthony Scully took exception to the barge, and then obstructed Ogilvie taking the throw. He got off only with a warning.
Jake Hesketh went into the book for a rash challenge on Ogilvie on 13 minutes but the biggest cheer from the home fans came three minutes later when Evans’ touchline protests went on too much for the referee’s liking and he was shown a yellow card.
Lincoln had the advantage of a strong wind in the first half. It made defending tough for the Gills but they stood up well to the task.
Scully could have given the hosts the lead just before the half-hour but he volleyed wide after being picked out by Tayo Edun.
Gillingham’s best opening arrived moments later. Ogilvie’s long throw-in eventually fell to Max Ehmer at the far post but keeper Josh Vickers kept out his shot and Stuart O’Keefe’s follow-up was blocked by the home defence.
Neal Eardley seemed Lincoln’s best outlet and Bonham had to do well to beat out his right-foot drive five minutes before the break.
Gills had another chance but Jordan Roberts sliced his shot horribly wide to sum up the quality in front of goal from both sides during a testing opening 45 minutes.
The wind showed no sign of easing up in the second half and an early cross nearly caught out home keeper Vickers.
But with the strong gales, neither team could fashion eye-catching football. It looked increasingly likely that a mistake was going to be decisive, at either end.
Scully shot weakly at Bonham as Lincoln worked the ball well while Barry Fuller responded with a long-range effort that went well wide of the target.
A series of Lee corners caused Lincoln problems and nearly presented a goal, Ehmer setting up Ogilvie, who shot over from inside the area.
Bonham had to be at his best to turn behind substitute Harry Anderson’s close-range header and Hanlan nodded wide for the Gills as both teams pushed for the breakthrough.
The hosts played the four additional minutes with 10 men after Hanlan and Edun clashed off the ball. Both were booked, with Edun’s yellow his second of the afternoon. He had already gone into the book for a late foul on the Gills forward in front of the visiting dugout.
Gills felt Michael Bostwick should have followed his team-mate for an early bath in the third minute of stoppage time for a crunching foul on substitute Regan Charles-Cook, but he escaped with a yellow card.
Lincoln: Vickers, Bridcutt, Bolger, Hopper, Bostwick, Scully, Grant, Coventry, Eardley, Hesketh (Anderson 57mins), Edun. Subs not used: Andrew, Eyoma, Payne, Chapman, Lewis, Elbouzedi.
Gillingham: Bonham, Fuller, Ehmer, Tucker, Ogilvie (Graham 81mins), Jones, O'Keefe, O'Connor, Lee (Charles-Cook 84mins), Roberts (Akinde 64mins), Hanlan. Subs not used: Walsh, Willock, Mandron, Pringle.
Attendance: 8,950 (682 away).
More by this authorMatthew Panting
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