Published: 16:40, 26 December 2019
| Updated: 20:59, 26 December 2019
Gillingham deservedly took a point from promotion chasing Ipswich Town but had enough chances to take all three.
Steve Evans’ side bossed the opening half but were unable to make it count during the first 45 minutes. Ipswich improved after the break but neither side could claim a winner.
Evans named an unchanged XI for the third match running, hoping their good form continued and Ipswich’s lousy home record got no better.
Ipswich hadn’t won a game at Portman Road since early October, that last success coming against a makeshift Gills in the EFL Trophy. Despite their poor form, the hosts started the day third in League 1.
A string of impressive results had lifted the Gills into the top half of the division in time for Christmas and they dominated the opening half hour of a game played in heavy rain, missing some great chances.
The best fell to Mikael Mandron, the ball falling into his path from goalkeeper Will Norris’ clearance after strike partner Brandon Hanlan had chased the ball down. With the keeper off his line, Mandron hesitated and that allowed a defender to get back and make a vital block.
Earlier on, it had taken a great recovery challenge from Toto Nsiala to deny Hanlan a one on one with Norris before that chance. Hanlan had initially got clear of the defender and was once again a real handful.
Ipswich had no time to settle on the ball and the home crowd weren’t impressed, often jeering their team. Gillingham had won a trio of corners inside the opening eight minutes but were unable to make them count.
Hanlan had also seen an angled shot saved and it took the hosts 32 minutes to engineer a shot on goal themselves, Kayden Jackson hitting the ball into the side netting after his initial effort had been blocked by Max Ehmer.
Ipswich players left for the break with boos ringing in their ears from the home faithful.
Despite the Gills having the better of the half, Ipswich had started to come alive late on and had a super chance to score against the run of play.
Alfie Jones lost possession and Jackson managed to evade a sliding challenge from Ehmer as he bore down on goal. With James Norwood waiting unmarked to guide the ball home, Jackson played the pass behind his strike partner, leading to the inevitable jeers.
A couple of timely interceptions from former Ipswich man Stuart O’Keefe - who was excellent throughout - were needed after a breakaway from a Gills corner, as Steve Evans’ men once again got off to a flyer from the word go.
Jackson went close again with a deflected shot that only needed a touch from Norwood to break the deadlock.
Ipswich were looking more dangerous after the restart but couldn’t keep the visitors quiet.
Striker Jackson wasn’t far off converting a deflected Jon Nolan cross as Ipswich’s confidence continued to grow. Alan Judge scuffed a good chance wide and keeper Jack Bonham had to clear a dangerous cross.
The chances had dried up for the Gills but a rare opportunity fell to the feet of Tom O’Connor, leaving him with just the keeper to beat. Olly Lee had let a ball from Mandron through his legs but the Irishman hit a deflected shot wide after opting to take the shot on his favoured left peg rather than shooting first time on his right.
Gillingham went close again moments later. Lee’s shot at the far post was saved and Ehmer’s follow-up blocked before O’Connor’s header from the subsequent corner was cleared.
Ipswich: Norris, Nsiala, Donacien (Sears 81mins), Edwards, Woolfenden, Garbutt, Skuse, Judge, Nolan, Jackson, Norwood. Subs not used: Holy, Wilson, Downes, Dozzell, Huws, Keane.
Gillingham: Bonham, Fuller, Ogilvie, Tucker, Ehmer, Jones, O’Connor, O’Keefe, Lee, Hanlan, Mandron (Jakubiak 85mins). Subs not used: Walsh, Hodson, Ndjoli, Marshall, Pringle, Charles-Cook.
Attendance: 22,082 (576 away)
More by this authorLuke Cawdell
This website and its associated newspaper are members of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)