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Gillingham 0 Shrewsbury 0 - Report

Shrewsbury and Gillingham shared the points in a forgettable goalless draw in front of few supporters on a freezing Priestfield night.

Matthew Pennington of Shrewsbury Town challenges Pontus Dahlberg of Gillingham (AMA)
Matthew Pennington of Shrewsbury Town challenges Pontus Dahlberg of Gillingham (AMA)

One-hundred and forty hardy Salopians braved the Baltic conditions and 400-mile midweek round trip to see their side struggle to break down a Gills side now winless in 16, who started the evening rock-bottom.

A point was enough for both sides to climb a place in League One, with Steve Cotterill's men up up to 17th, but few other positives will be taken from an evening where the hosts dominated the chances.

Much of the contest was uninspiring for the 3,200 in attendance but it was the hosts who went closest late on, as Danny Lloyd found the woodwork and Marko Marosi denied Olly Lee. The hosts settled for just a second point from 10 games.

Following the late disappointment against Bolton on Saturday, supporters wondered whether Cotterill may decide to change his starting line-up after a run of familiar personnel.

But the manager said in advance he was 'loyal' to those who were loyal to him and named the same XI for a seventh game on the spin in all competitions.

Managerless Gills, on the other hand, were missing influential striker Vadaine Oliver - whose partner was due to give birth - and midfielder Ben Reeves (foot).

David Davis of Shrewsbury Town and Kyle Dempsey of Gillingham (AMA)

Reeves emerged from the bench at Wigan on Saturday when Steve Lovell's men were 2-0 down after a despondent first half. His introduction helped force a fightback and draw level, but Reeves limped off and Gills conceded a late winner.

The hosts did not start the game as a side short on confidence and without a victory in more than three months.

Gills were on top early on and looked after the ball well while playing with a good tempo. They looked dangerous from set-pieces as defender Jack Tucker - who headed in an opener at the Meadow in August's 2-1 Shrews win - nodded low at Marosi.

Skipper Kyle Dempsey, the subject of transfer interest, saw a fierce strike blocked by his own man before Robbie McKenzie headed Olly Lee's corner into the near post side netting.

Town gradually found their feet and worked their way into the game, with George Nurse's long throws a prominent feature.

Gills, who conceded from a set-piece at Wigan, made a hash of one throw, which Shrewsbury recycled and almost forced home. Keeper Pontus Dahlberg missed his punch and was then fortunate to escape with a foul given by referee Brett Huxtable after Town had scrambled in despite Max Ehmer's efforts at punching it off the line.

Udoh snapped a left-footed effort across goal at out for a throw-in to the home fans' glee.

Dan Udoh of Shrewsbury Town and Daniel Phillips of Gillingham (AMA)

There was nothing wrong with young Gills striker Charlie Kelman's confidence as the QPR loanee's ambitious effort from almost halfway limped well wide.

Udoh showed his sharpest with a terrific burst of speed through the heart of Gills' defence, ended by Ehmer who was lucky to see yellow. Elliott Bennett curled the resulting free-kick towards the left corner and only a fine diving stop from Dahlberg kept it goalless in an otherwise poor first half lacking in quality with just a single effort on target for either side.

The second half took some time to warm up - quite literally in the freezing conditions - but the low home crowd of a little over 3,000 were given something to liven them up after the break.

The biggest chance of the evening dropped to big striker John Akinde who, after industrious work from Dempsey, scooped a poor finish well over to the frustration of Gills fans. But the busy Kelman boosted the home fans with a brave block.

Shrews, down the other end, were ponderous outside the hosts' penalty area and Cotterill shouted for Udoh to pull the trigger after the top scorer delayed.

Ryan Bowman of Shrewsbury Town and Jack Tucker of Gillingham (AMA)

Gills looked much the likelier and went close as lively loan midfielder Daniel Phillips cut in and fired a low left-footed shot just wide of Marosi's near post with the keeper scrambling.

Cotterill had made Aaron Pierre for an off-colour Nathanael Ogbeta his first change and he turned to his new boys with 15 minutes to go in a bid to swing the low-key contest into his side's favour.

Despite the introduction of the new boys it was the hosts who went extremely close to a winner. Sub Lloyd's thumping 30-yard free-kick cracked the woodwork before Marosi tipped over Lee's skewed cross and Kelman fired over on an evening best forgotten for both.


Gillingham (4-4-2 diamond): Dahlberg; Jackson, Ehmer, Tucker, McKenzie; Phillips (Lloyd, 82), Dempsey (c), O'Keefe, Lee; Kelman, Akinde (Dickson-Peters, 58).

Subs not used: Chapman, Bennett, Tutonda, Sithole, Lintott.

Shrewsbury Town (3-5-2): Marosi; Pennington, Ebanks-Landell (c), Nurse (Fornah, 75); Bennett, Davis, Leahy, Vela, Ogbeta (Pierre, 60); Udoh, Bowman (Janneh, 75).

Subs not used: Burgoyne, Daniels, Bloxham, Pyke.

Attendance: 3,213 (140 Shrewsbury fans)

Referee: Brett Huxtable

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