28 January 2023

Gavin Gunning left with mixed emotions as Swindon draw with Gillingham

28 January 2023

Caretaker-boss Gavin Gunning was left with mixed emotions after 10-man Swindon fought back from two goals down to draw 3-3 with Gillingham.

Charlie Austin scored twice as the Robins grabbed what looked an unlikely point at the County Ground after going into the half-time break 3-1 down.

Jonny Williams gave them a first-minute lead before goals from Timothee Dieng, Will Wright and Tom Nichols turned things around.

But Austin converted a second-half penalty before heading home an equaliser.

Gunning said: “I have mixed emotions, I was very disappointed at half time, but it was a nice second half.

“I can’t be more proud, it was a fantastic second half performance, 45 minutes of top calibre football, they struggled and couldn’t deal with it.

“We lost our shape at times in the first half, everybody wanted to be in the forward line to score goals instead of giving depth and create space in the pockets like we had worked on and then the game plan went out of the window.

“I could have changed nearly one to 11 as I wasn’t going to let the game get away from us, because we were 3-1 down already, what is the worst that can happen? We could lose 5-1?”

Swindon took the lead after 58 seconds when a cross was half cleared by Gillingham straight to Jonny Williams, who volleyed into the corner of the net.

The Gills answered back straight away as Nichols picked out Dieng with a cross and he diverted it beyond Sol Brynn.

Inside 10 minutes Gillingham had taken the lead as they were awarded a penalty for handball, which Wright tucked into the bottom corner.

After 13 minutes the visitors whipped in a free-kick from the left and Nichols helped it on its way into the far corner of the net.

Austin scored a second half brace as first he powered home a penalty and then got on the end of a Rushian Hepburn-Murphy cross to equalise with 10 minutes remaining.

Saidou Khan got a second yellow shortly after as he prevented a counter attack with a foul on the halfway line.

Gillingham boss Neil Harris said: “I’m delighted to get a point on the road again. So another point gained that pushes in the right direction.

“Three games unbeaten and seven points out of nine, three goals scored, we have now scored seven in three games, we scored seven in 23 before that, so it’s a massive step.

“All I said to the players my only disappointment is our decision making in the second half was really poor which led to probably the second or third goals. I thought the referee’s decision making the second half was even worse.

But it’s a point gained, so sometimes you throw away a two-goal lead. I don’t think we necessarily threw it away. I think Swindon earned it.”

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