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Match Reports

Late leveller sees Lions draw with Gills

Fans are back...

27 July 2021

Gillingham and Millwall drew 1-1 in a pre-season friendly at Priestfield on Tuesday night.

Kyle Dempsey gave the home side a first-half lead, but Jake Cooper equalised late on to ensure a share of the spoils.

Gary Rowett opted to name a strong side against The Gills, including Ryan Leonard in the midfield, in his third consecutive pre-season match as the midfielder stepped up his recovery from a long-term injury.

Backed by a 700-strong attendance in the away end, Millwall's first game with fans, without restrictions, since March 2020 kicked-off in the Medway sunshine - and the first chance went the way of The Lions, but neither Scott Malone nor Leonard could muster an attempt on goal.

Bartosz Bialkowski had to rush out of his goal to head clear from danger with eight minutes on the clock, before a goal-saving challenge from Leonard prevented Olly Lee from firing past the stopper from close-range three minutes later.

With 14 minutes played, however, Gillingham were able to take the lead as Dempsey cannoned a shot from outside the area in off the near post.

The Lions responded and looked to get back into the game through Malone's corner, but Daniel Ballard nodded over at the back post, before a lung-busting run from Malone looked to set up Benik Afobe on the half-hour mark, but after he tumbled to the ground under the close attentions of the defence, referee Gavin Ward was unmoved.

Danny McNamara - throwing himself into some meaty tackles early in the half - found Afobe, situated on the penalty spot, with a cross seven minutes before the break, but his attempt was well-blocked behind for a corner; one which Ballard volleyed inches wide of the post.

Matt Smith and Tom Bradshaw replaced Mason Bennett and Afobe at halft-time, and it was the latter of those two who was involved in The Lions' first chance of the second-half, but Malone dragged an effort wide from Bradshaw's flick-on.

One of Gillingham's four trialists was the next to try his luck in a second-half devoid of chances, but he skewed his shot wide of the post, but an opportunity did fall the way of Millwall with 11 minutes remaining; substitute goalkeeper Aaron Chapman was equal to Connor Mahoney's attempt, however.

Chapman then had to punch Mahoney's teasing corner-kick off his goal-line as The Lions looked for an equaliser, and with the pressure mounting, a flick-on by Smith found Bradshaw, but the striker's snap-shot was well-stopped by Chapman.

From that corner, however, came the equaliser - and from the head of Cooper. A deep kick found Smith at the back post and as the frontman nodded back across goal, there was the defender to power home a header from close-range.

The Gills had a late corner to try to win the game, but The Lions were able to deal with it - referee Ward blowing time on a draw seconds later.

Gillingham: Cumming, Bennett, Tucker, Ehmer, Trialist, Phillips, Lee, Dempsey, Reeves, Lloyd, Oliver. Subs: Chapman, Akehurst, Gale, Trialist, Trialist, Trialist, Lintott, O'Keefe, MacDonald, Akinde.

Scorer: Dempsey 14'

Millwall: Bialkowski, McNamara (Romeo 71'), Ballard, Pearce (Cooper 61'), M. Wallace, Malone, Evans (Mahoney 71'), Leonard (Saville 71'), Thompson (B. Mitchell 61'), Bennett (Bradshaw 46'), Afobe (Smith 46'). Subs not used: Long, A. Mitchell, Burey, Bodvarsson.

Scorer: Cooper 86'

Referee: Mr Gavin Ward

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