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Swindon Town 3 Gillingham 3: Timothee Dieng, Will Wright and Tom Nichols score for the Gills while Jonathan Williams and Charlie Austin (2) net for the Robins

Gillingham were leading 3-1 against Swindon Town but had to settle for a point from a League 2 thriller.

The Gills scored three goals in 13 minutes to cancel out Jonathan Williams’ 57-second opener as Timothee Dieng levelled, Will Wright scored from the spot and Tom Nichols added a third during a frantic opening to the match. It was a lead they couldn’t hold onto.

Will Wright slots in the penalty to put Gillingham 2-1 infront
Will Wright slots in the penalty to put Gillingham 2-1 infront

Swindon's Charlie Austin fired home from the penalty spot in the second half and then headed in to make it 3-3 before Saidou Khan was sent off for Swindon late on for a second bookable offence.

Gillingham boss Neil Harris named an unchanged team for the third match running, following back-to-back 2-0 wins.

Play-off chasing Swindon had a couple of weeks off with frozen pitches while the Gills had been turning their season around, beating Grimsby 5-0 in their previous match, at home.

It was a dream start for Swindon as they struck with less than a minute gone. Just 57 seconds had been played when Jonathan Williams’ volley crept into the bottom corner after Robbie McKenzie’s headed clearance from Remeao Hutton’s cross fell nicely for him.

The Gills weren’t down for long and in the third minute they were level as Tom Nichol’s right-sided cross was nodded in by Timothee Dieng.

It got better for the visitors and they had a bit of good fortune as home defender Frazer Blake-Tracy was adjudged to have handled Max Ehmer’s point-blank shot inside the box. Referee Paul Howard pointed to the spot to the frustration of the hosts.

Blake-Tracy was still in the referee’s ear - claiming Ehmer’s powerful effort hit him in the face - as Gills defender Will Wright rolled the penalty into the bottom corner to give his side a 2-1 ninth-minute lead.

Timothee Dieng celebrates scoring Gillingham's equaliser in the first half
Timothee Dieng celebrates scoring Gillingham's equaliser in the first half

It was 3-1 to Gillingham after a crazy 13 minutes. Nichols made it three goals from three starts since joining as his glancing header from Alex MacDonald’s free-kick was enough to take it past home goalkeeper Solomon Brynn.

The Gills switched to five at the back to protect their lead and Swindon had plenty of the ball for the rest of the half. Oli Hawkins headed a chance from Charlie Austin off the line and the Swindon forward also put a couple of shots wide.

Swindon’s interim boss Gavin Gunning made a trio of changes at the break as he looked to rescue the match from 3-1 down.

The home side started well and Glenn Morris had to get down low to save from Saidou Khan and moments later substitute Jake Cain fired wide.

Referee Howard got the chance to square up the penalty count with 57 minutes gone and took it, with Will Wright this time the unfortunate player to have been penalised as Jacob Wakeling’s powerful shot on the turn hit him on the arm.

Gills goalkeeper Glenn Morris went the right way and got a touch on Austin’s penalty but there was too much power behind it and the ball crept over the line.

Alex MacDonald with a chance for the Gills at Swindon in the opening half
Alex MacDonald with a chance for the Gills at Swindon in the opening half

Swindon kept pressing, dominating possession and looking to finish off their own comeback. Harris had introduced recent addition Conor Masterson for MacDonald as the Gills looked to hold off the hosts.

That pressure from the hosts paid off as a great cross from Rushian Hepburn-Murphy was met by Austin and his glancing header took it past Morris for 3-3 with 12 minutes left.

Swindon went down to 10 men for the final nine minutes as Khan picked up a second booking after a late challenge on George Lapslie.

Only a top save from Morris denied Swindon a last-minute winner as Hepburn-Murphy was denied on the break when one-on-one with the Gills stopper. Seconds later a shot from Tyrese Shade was deflected narrowly wide.

Gillingham: Morris, Tutonda, McKenzie, Wright, Ehmer, Williams, MacDonald (Masterson 62mins), Jefferies (Kashket 86mins), Dieng, Nichols (Lapslie 73mins) Hawkins. Subs not used: Turner, Alexander, Adelakun, Gbode.

Swindon: Brynn, Hutton, Iandolo (Shade 46mins), Williams (Hepburn-Murphy 46mins), Austin, Jephcott (Cain 46mins), Blake-Tracy, Lavinier, Khan, Wakeling (Darcy 72mins), Brennan (Minturn 74mins). Subs not used: Copland, Kanu.

Referee: Paul Howard

Attendance: 10,259 (961 away)

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