Dover Athletic 2-2 Gillingham
Dover Athletic 2-2 Gillingham

Dover and Gillingham played out a stalemate on Tuesday at The Crabble in an entertaining 2-2 draw between the two Kent sides.

Goals from Inih Effiong, Alfie Pavey, Elliott List and Brandon Hanlan provided the entertainment in the evening heat, a game in which Gillingham manager Steve Evans was happy to give eleven of his side 90 minutes.

Effiong had put the home side ahead within the opening five minutes on the Kent coast in what was perhaps a surprisingly comfortable half for Dover. Elliott List and Brandon Hanlan responded just after half time for Gillingham in quick succession to turn the game on its head, though, but Pavey equalised late on to ensure the spoils were shared.

Dover, sporting their new home kit for the first time, started the game on the front foot with a couple of free kicks and their early pressure paid off in the fourth minute when Inih Effiong put them ahead. A long ball up from defence was flicked on by Alfie Pavey for Effiong to chase, and chase he did.

Gills goalkeeper Jack Bonham came rushing out of his goal to clear the ball, only to strikemthe effort straight at the Dover forward. Effiong composed himself, rounded Bonham on the edge of the 18-yard box and slotted home easily into an empty net.

Gillingham took their time to get into the game but almost equalised when Brandon volleyed just wide after good work from Elliott List and Mark Byrne.

Dover were soon back pressing, though, when Alfie Pavey headed just wide from new signing Aaron Simpson’s cross. Later on, Pavey had another headed opportunity, however put it straight into Bonham’s gloves.

Bradley Garmston enjoyed getting forward all night and got the better of Scott Doe on the 20 minute mark when he knocked the ball round the defender to run onto, however, as was often the case in the first half, the resulting cross couldn’t find an attacker.

Soon after it was Brandon Hanlan’s turn to run at the Whites’ defence when he turned Aaron Simpson inside out down the Gillingham left, but, yet again, the resulting cross fell astray.

Just before half time Effiong was involved again when he chased another Alfie Pavey flick on. Jack Bonham showed hesitation when coming off his line and lost the race to the loose ball, but he will have been pleased to see the looping effort sail over his crossbar.

As soon as the second half started, The Gills kicked into life. Lee Hodson worked the ball well down the right hand side and, despite the Dover defenders claiming the ball had gone out of play for a goal kick, the Gillingham full back got his cross in towards Mikael Ndjoli. The Bournemouth loanee dummied the ball for his fellow wide man Elliott List to control and show great composure to fire past a stranded Yusuf Mesin – one of many half time Whites changes.

Just a minute later the Football League club were bursting forward again, this time led by former Cardiff man Stuart O’Keefe. The midfielder found the advancing Mark Byrne with a neat pass, who was able to force a cross into the path of frontman Brandon Hanlan, albeit via a heavy deflection. The Gills number 7 fired past Mersin on the volley at the first time of asking to give Gillingham the lead for the first time.

Gillingham threatened a third via O’Keefe after good work from Cissé, but it was Dover who were to get the next goal through front man Alfie Pavey on the 64 minute mark.

A brilliantly floated ball from Nassim L’Ghoul split the Gillingham defence in two to find Pavey, who controlled well. He needed two attempts at goal after Jack Bonham saved his first effort, but he ensured the back of the net was bulging with a cool finish past the Gillingham number one with his second attempt.

Gillingham bombarded the Dover penalty box late on in the game, with Ndjoli, Cissé and Jones all coming close, but the Dover defence did enough to keep them out and, despite plenty of end to end action in the final five minutes, neither side could find a breakthrough, and the game ended two a piece at The Crabble.

Dover: Worgan (Mersin 45), Simpson, Taylor (Wratten 75), Doe, Lokko (Passley 45), Gobern (Rigg 52), Reason (L’Ghoul 45), Woods, Effiong (Cumberbatch 45), Pavey, Hinchiri (Munns 45).

Subs not used: N/A

Goals: Effiong 4, Pavey 64

Gillingham: Bonham, Hodson, Garmston, O’Keefe, Ehmer, Hanlan, Ndjoli, List, Cissé, Byrne.

Subs not used: Walsh, Ogilvie, Charles-Cook, Fuller, Trialist, Oldaker, Reilly, Tucker.

Goals: List 51, Hanlan 52

Attendance: 888

Referee: Mr I Searle

Assistants: Mr S Butler and Mr D Bonneywell

Fourth official: Mr B Marshall