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Southend United 1 Gillingham 1 – match report

Gillingham came away with a deserved point from their promotion clash at Southend.

Anthony Wordsworth put the hosts ahead but Luke Norris levelled soon after the restart.

The Gills knocked on the door for a late winner but had to make do with a point from their trip to Roots Hall.

Gills celebrate Luke Norris' equaliser against Southend.Picture: Barry Goodwin
Gills celebrate Luke Norris' equaliser against Southend.Picture: Barry Goodwin

Promotion-chasing Gillingham included Andrew Crofts in their starting line-up after making a surprise return to the club on loan from Brighton.

He replaced injured skipper Doug Loft in the team. Jake Hessenthaler was also handed a role in the starting XI, as was returning defender Deji Oshilaja.

Southend, with an outside chance of making the play-offs, included former Gills skipper Adam Barrett in the centre of their defence.

Gills captain Josh Wright in action against Southend.Picture: Barry Goodwin
Gills captain Josh Wright in action against Southend.Picture: Barry Goodwin

The Gills made a bright start and forced keeper Dan Bentley into a double save after just five minutes, denying both Norris and Hessenthaler.

Southend grew into the half and big front-man Tyrone Barnett was denied by Stuart Nelson.

The home side took the lead on 21 minutes, with Wordsworth stroking the ball home, as Jermaine McGlashan failed to get enough distance on a clearance.

Kevan Hurst fired wide from distance as the Gills were restricted to half-chances. Dominic Samuel fired over and Norris went the same way with a header off a corner.

Gills striker Luke NorrisPicture: Barry Goodwin
Gills striker Luke NorrisPicture: Barry Goodwin

Towards the end of the half Southend striker Jack Payne began to look dangerous. He had a deflected shot saved and later on came close to bursting through the defence but was twice blocked.

Crofts flashed an second-half chance wide of the upright soon after the restart.

Payne, who had come alive at the end of the first half and was Southend’s biggest threat, fired a shot into the side netting but the Gills were soon level.

Brennan Dickenson put the ball into the box and Norris was on hand to guide it home with 53 minutes gone, his sixth goal of the season.

Samuel was denied a chance of putting the Gills ahead, with a shot blocked just as he prepared to shoot, and Jamar Loza put a good chance over for the hosts.

Chances began to become more frequent as the clock neared the 90-minute mark. Bentley made a flying save to deny Samuel after the Gills striker tried his luck from distance.

Samuel was in the thick of it and when his volley was saved by Bentley, Wordsworth made a block on the line as Oshilaja looked to follow up.

Payne and Barnett both headed wide late on for Southend but the game ended level.

Southend: Bentley, White, Coker, Wordsworth, Barrett, Thompson, Payne, Hurst (McQueen 76mins), Deegan, Kamara (Loza 63mins), Barnett. Subs not used: Weston, Atkinson, Smith, McLaughlin, O’Neill.

Gillingham: Nelson, A Morris, Dickenson, Ehmer, Oshilaja, Wright, Crofts, Hessenthaler (Williams 76mins), McGlashan (Jackson 80mins), Samuel, Norris. Subs not used: Garmston, G Morris, Osadebe, Donnelly, Oldaker. 

Attendance: 9,135 (1,921 away)

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