Gillingham 0-0 Shrewsbury Town
Gillingham 0-0 Shrewsbury Town

Priestfield’s first goalless League game in more than two years leaves Gillingham facing a monumental challenge now to make the League One Play Offs after being frustrated by Shrewsbury Town.

But it was so close to being so different had Connor Ogilvie’s first half stoppage time shot ricocheted into the visitor’s net rather than rebounding to safety… such small margins in this of all seasons are truly proving the difference!

All in all, it was a frustrating afternoon for The Gills as their disappointing run against the Shrews was extended to just one win in their last nine meetings and just three wins in the eighteen meetings since Simeon Jackson’s Wembley winner back in 2009.

That was the last time Gillingham featured in post season and after a highly successful March which saw accolades for both Steve Evans and Vadaine Oliver, the Play Off dream was very much alive.

But those hopes took a huge dent following this result and whoever said that a week is a long time in football, could have been talking about the last seven days for the Gills faithful as the dreams and high optimistic hopes that were there a week ago have taken a huge hit since!

The Gills boss made just the one change to the side hammered at Blackpool on Easter Monday as the fit again Robbie Cundy returned to the starting like up with Tom O’Connor dropping to the bench.

The home side started brightly with both Oliver and Ogilvie testing Shrews keeper Matija Sarkic early on – Oliver denied his seventeenth goal of the season as the Gills top scorer’s low drive was brilliantly turned aside (from Jordan Graham’s cross) and then Ogilvie’s header – from Ryan Jackson’s centre – was well collected.

The visitors then had a couple of shots blocked whilst the Gills enjoyed chances of their own as Kyle Dempsey was denied by Sarkic, and Ogilvie has another header blocked. Shaun Whalley then pulled the very best out of Jack Bonham with a header that the Gills stopper did very well to keep out, as the visitors upped the pressure.

Just before half time, Alex MacDonald went agonisingly close with a drive that didn’t miss the left post by much and Graham sent a free kick into the deserted Brian Moore Stand, before the frame of the goal denied Ogilvie as his shot beat Sarkic only to crash off the woodwork and away to safety!

The Gills made a double change at the break with Robbie McKenzie and Dominic Samuel being thrust into the action in place of Stuart O’Keefe (who had been booked in the first half) and John Akinde and as the home side reorganised Josh Vela almost made them pay but Bonham kept the score line blank with a fine stop.

Oliver then had two good chances in quick succession, but March’s Player of the Month couldn’t find the target as he firstly headed wide before in the next Gills attack, the big striker sent his shot (from Jackson’s pass) high over the bar.

Shrewsbury’s best chances came from set pieces and Whalley was guilty of missing a better chance with twenty minutes left than the one he had in the opening half. The Shrews striker got on the end of Ollie Noburn’s free kick but sent his effort high over the Gills crossbar!

The visitors so nearly left Kent with all three points as in stoppage time Harry Chapman’s deflected shot was agonisingly wide of the post but in a way the effort summed up the game – nearly but not quite and even the most optimistic Gills fan now knows that if Steve Evans’ side are to challenge for post season, they must win next weekend when they travel to title chasing Peterborough United…

They will go into that game sitting tenth in the league, four points outside the play-off places and crucially with just five games left to play and having played a number of games more than those around them.

GILLINGHAM – Bonham, Jackson, Cundy, Tucker, Ogilvie, O’Keefe (McKenzie H/T), Dempsey, Graham, MacDonald (Lee 79), Akinde (Samuel H/T), Oliver.

Subs not usedBastien, O’Connor, Johnson, Willock.

Booked: O’Keefe (22), Jackson (68), Tucker (77).

SHREWSBURY TOWN – Sarkic, Pennington, Ebanks-Landell, Williams, Love, Vela, Goss (Edwards 88), Noburn, Ogbeta, Whalley (Chapman 86), Udoh (Main 86)

Subs not used – Burgoyne, Pyke, Sears, Davis.

Booked: Love (79).

REFEREE – Mr Trevor Kettle

Picture supplied by Gillingham Football Club.