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Shrewsbury Town 1 Gillingham 1: Omar Beckles cancels out Stuart O’Keefe’s penalty opener

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Gillingham were denied a first win on the road after Shrewsbury fought back from a goal down.

Stuart O’Keefe put the Gills ahead from the penalty spot just before the break but the hosts levelled through Omar Beckles in the second half.

Connor Ogilvie heads a great chance just wide Picture: Ady Kerry (19948193)
Connor Ogilvie heads a great chance just wide Picture: Ady Kerry (19948193)

Reaction: “I don’t think there is any dispute that we should have won the game."

There were three changes for the Gills, one of them enforced due to Mark Byrne’s suspension, picking up his fifth caution of the season after a handball which led to a penalty at the weekend.

Regan Charles-Cook and Mark Marshall were both brought into the starting XI while Alex Jakubiak got the nod ahead of Mikael Ndjoli.

There was a good early chance for Gills from a deep free-kick in, headed wide by defender Connor Ogilvie, without much of a challenge from the usually solid home defence.

Only three teams in League 1 had a better defensive record than the Shrews before the midweek clash but with just 10 goals in their ‘for’ column, only bottom side Bolton Wanderers had scored less.

The game took a while to come to life, with Jack Bonham making a comfortable save from Josh Laurent, hitting the game’s first shot on target with 25 minutes gone.

Mikael Ndjoli up against Shrewsbury's Aaron Pierre Picture: Ady Kerry (19948197)
Mikael Ndjoli up against Shrewsbury's Aaron Pierre Picture: Ady Kerry (19948197)

Gillingham had a few half chances before taking the lead. Max Ehmer went close as he got a touch on a Marshall cross but it went narrowly wide.

Referee Will Finnie had irked the Gills boss Evans early on, booking his two defensive midfielders after ignoring a heftier challenge on Regan Charles-Cook, but the official had no hesitation pointing to the spot on 42 minutes.

Ryan Giles’ untidy challenge on Tom O’Connor left the Gills man flattened and O’Keefe was the man to take on the responsibility from the penalty spot. He sent keeper Max O’Leary the wrong way to put the Gills infront.

Brandon Hanlan headed over as the last action of the first 45, a half which had seen the Gills denied on two other occasions when the appealed for penalties.

O’Leary made an early second half save to deny Marshall as the Gills man tried to beat the keeper at his near post.

Olly Lee challenges with Sean Goss Picture: Ady Kerry (19948190)
Olly Lee challenges with Sean Goss Picture: Ady Kerry (19948190)

Shrewsbury wing-back Ryan Giles was a little thankful to the leniency of the referee when he brought Regan Charles-Cook down on the edge of the box, with the Gills man in on goal. He got away with only a booking and Tom O’Connor put the free-kick over the bar.

The hosts were more of a threat in the second half, improving after being booed off at the break, and they got on level terms when Beckles side-footed a low left-sided cross from Sean Goss, beating Bonham with a shot that just crept inside the post. O'Keefe's missed clearance had given him the chance.

Hanlan forced O’Leary into a save with 15 minutes left, using his strength to get away from his marker, but unable to really test the keeper. Shaun Whalley blazed an effort wide at the other end.

Late substitute Ndjoli stung the keeper’s hands to win a corner which Hanlan almost capitalised on as the ball was put back in after initially been cleared. His effort went over the bar and it was to be Gills' last big opportunity.

Goss wasted a late good chance for the hosts, hitting the wall with a free-kick and firing the follow-up into the stand.

Substitute Dave Edwards headed a great chance wide for Shrewsbury with 90 minutes on the clock and moments later Fejiri Okenabirhie put another header the wrong side of the goal for the home side.

Shrewsbury: O’Leary, Pierre, Williams, Beckles, Norburn, Giles, Love, Goss, Udoh (Okenabirhie 31mins), Laurent (Whalley 59mins), Cummings (Edwards 73mins). Subs: Murphy, Golbourne, Walker, Thompson.

Gillingham: Bonham, O’Connor, Tucker, Ehmer, Ogilvie, Jones, O’Keefe, Charles-Cook (Lee 80mins), Marshall (Hodson 90mins), Jakubiak (Ndjoli 81mins), Hanlan. Subs: Walsh, Mandron, Cisse, Pringle.

Attendance: 5,076 (186 away)

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