Gillingham effectively snuffed out an in-form Scunthorpe side to pick up a valuable point as Peter Taylor rang the changes in the Gills’ starting lineup.
In what appeared to be a team set out to stifle the opposition, Taylor selected SIX defenders and no natural strikers, as he opted for the most solid base he could select and threw a couple of young pacy runners up front.
The Gills lined up with a back three of Alex Lacey, Gabriel Zakuani and Ben Nugent flanked by defensive wing-backs Connor Ogilvie and Luke O’Neill. Another Gills centre-half, Max Ehmer, provided additional protection as a midfield anchorman.
A midfield duo of Mark Byrne and the returning Jake Hessenthaler were asked to battle in the centre of the field, while loanee Sean Clare had the brief of getting forward to support lone front man Elliot List, who made his first appearance of the season.
Overall, the lineup worked. Gillingham restricted the visitors to only a few chances during the game, while List and Clare looked a threat in behind the Scunthorpe defence during a first half that showed promise.
Gillingham’s best chance of the game came early on, as Clare sent List away down the right flank with a perfectly-weighted pass. The young winger breezed past the Scunthorpe defence and fizzed a tempting low ball across the six yard box which Clare narrowly failed to connect with.
It would have given the team a real boost, as well as a lead to hold on to, but nonetheless, Gillingham continued to defend stoutly, conceding the lions’ share of possession to the visitors as they kept their shape and restricted the visitors to only a handful of half-chances.
Clare was replaced at halftime (presumably for a slight injury), which resulted in Gillingham’s new front pairing of List and Josh Parker (who had earlier replaced a hamstrung Luke O’Neill) becoming increasingly isolated from the team, with the Gills midfield trio of Ehmer, Hessenthaler and Byrne sitting very deep as Scunthorpe piled on the pressure.
Holy had to be on alert to deny Tom Hopper and the impressive Duane Holmes, but otherwise, the Gills’ plan to suffocate the life out of the game largely worked.
As a spectacle, it was virtually a non-event. Just 4,002 fans were in attendance for the game that saw the two teams muster just four efforts on target between them – with Gillingham accounting for just one of them – over the 94 minutes of game time.
But the end result – a clean sheet and a point gained – was a positive one as Taylor’s first game in charge took the first step in steadying the ship as Gillingham look to kick-start their campaign as we head into October.
Gills lineup vs Scunthorpe
Holy, Nugent, Zakuani, Lacey, Ogilvie, O’Neill (Parker 16), Ehmer, Hessenthaler, Byrne, Clare (Starkey 45), List (Nash 70)
Unused subs: Oldaker, Simpson, Cundle, Arnold