James Husband’s injury-time free-kick rescued a late point for Fleetwood Town as they drew 1-1 with Gillingham at Highbury on Saturday.
Husband’s first goal for the Cod Army cancelled out Tom Eaves’ second half header, in what was difficult conditions on the Fylde Coast.
Joey Barton made two changes to the side that beat Burton Albion last weekend. Nathan Sheron and Ashley Hunter came into the side, with Jason Holt and Ashley Nadesan dropping to the bench. Harrison Holgate was named amongst the substitutes for the first time in a league match.
Fleetwood created the first chance of the game after a chipped through ball from Wes Burns picked out Paddy Madden, who managed to skip past Connor Ogilvie, but fortunately for Gillingham the referee pulled play back for a foul.
In the tenth minute, Harry Souttar was called into action when Eaves was played through on goal but the centre back, on loan from Stoke City, made an important block to stop the shot from reaching the target.
Just two minutes later and Town had another opportunity thanks to a brilliant through ball from Lewie Coyle, who fed Hunter into the box. The winger then cut inside but his shot was also blocked.
It was an open first twenty minutes with both sides not creating any big opportunities on goal. The Cod Army were playing a highline, forcing Gillingham to keep the ball quite deep before attempting long balls over the top.
Town won a free-kick in a dangerous area after Ched Evans was fouled by Dean Parrett. The free-kick was taken by Evans but hit straight into the wall and the follow up by Hunter was his high over the crossbar.
Fleetwood continued to put pressure on the visitors and in the 31st minute, Evans managed to get a shot on goal which was parried away by Holy but only back into the path of the striker, but nothing comes from it.
The best chance of the first half fell to Hunter after Madden’s pass, similar to Coyle’s pass earlier on, put him in on goal but the forward’s low shot could only force a save from Holy who did well to keep it out.
The Cod Army came out the blocks quicker in the second half, with Coyle being brought down by Leo Da Silva Lopes as he was running through on goal. The Gills midfielder only received a yellow card for his actions, giving away a free-kick on the edge of the 18-yard-box.
In the 66th minute, Town countered fast after a low cross from Da Silva Lopes was collected by Alex Cairns who released James Husband down the left wing. The left-back then took it in his stride, as he glided past three players before picking Hunter out on the edge of the box, but his shot didn’t struggle the keeper.
Jack Sowerby found himself in space after some good play by the Cod Army, the midfielder then took a touch before firing at goal but Holy comfortably smothered it into his chest.
Gillingham found a foot in the game late on and forced Souttar into making a brilliant tackle to deny Da Silva Lopes any chance inside the area. The game was beginning to open up, once again.
A big chance for Gillingham came with just nine minutes left to play, when substitute Elliot List got on the end of O’Neill’s cross at the front post but couldn’t manage to put his header on target.
The Gills continued to put pressure on Fleetwood and finally got their reward as Tom Eaves got his 17th of the season, after he headed home at the back post.
Fleetwood substitute, Ashley Nadesan was fouled on the edge of the area which gave Town one last chance in injury time. James Husband stood over the free-kick and hit it ever so sweetly on his left foot, curling the ball into the top corner, making it 1-1.
Joey Barton’s side came from behind for the first time this season gaining another point in the Sky Bet League One table, building on good form recently, losing just one of their last five games.
Fleetwood Town XI: Cairns (GK), Burns, Eastham, Souttar, Husband; Coyle, Sheron (Nadesan 62’), Sowerby; Madden, Evans, Hunter (Garner 72’).
Subs: Jones (GK), Holt, Biggins, Rydel, Holgate.
Gillingham XI: Holy (GK), O’Neill, Ehmer, Ogilvie, Fuller; Parrett, Byrne, Da Silva Lopes; Burke; Eaves, Hanlan (List 79’).
Subs: Hadler (GK), Charles-Cook, Reilly, Campbell, King, Rees.