Marcelo denies Gillingham

Gillingham 1 Birmingham City 1
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The Independent Online

The Brazilian striker Marcelo salvaged a point for managerless Birmingham City at Gillingham after team-mate Darren Purse had given the home side the lead with an own goal in the first half.

Marcelo, who scored both goals in the home victory over Midlands rivals Coventry on Sunday, scored in the 63rd minute to earn his caretaker managers Mick Mills and Jim Barron a share of the spoils.

Purse's own goal in a disappointing first half at Priestfield Stadium boosted Gillingham's hopes of extending their winning run to four matches. The Gills manager Andy Hessenthaler admitted his side were "on a roll" before this game and when defender Purse headed the ball into his own net in the 16th minute it suggested things would continue to go the way of the Kent club. The opening goal came after defender Chris Hope had been involved in the thick of the early action and had two chances to give Gillingham the lead.

Hope's fifth-minute header was blocked and he was also first to a Simon Osborn corner, but Ian Bennett held his effort. It was not until the home side had gone ahead that Birmingham had their first shot on goal but Marcelo headed wide from close range.

Geoff Horsfield had a great opportunity to equalise but could only knock a Martin Grainger cross wide of the near post. Bennett made a fine save from Guy Ipoua to keep the score at 1-0 in the 39th minute, shortly after Gillingham midfielder Paul Smith had his name taken for a foul on Curtis Woodhouse.

The Birmingham midfielder meted out revenge in stoppage time and was also cautioned, with Purse's blunder proving the difference between the teams as the half-time whistle was blown. But Marcelo made the most of his second half chance to keep Birmingham on the fringe of the play-off picture.

Gillingham: Bartram, Nosworthy, Butters, Hope, Samuel, Smith, Browning, Osborn, King, Ipoua (Perpetuini, 83), Onuora (Shaw, 70). Substitutes not used: Saunders, Patterson, Hessenthaler.

Birmingham City: Bennett, Fleming, Purse, Vickers, Burrows, Eaden, O'Connor, Grainger (Johnson, 66), Woodhouse, Marcelo (Johnson, 90), Horsfield (Moomey, 80). Substitutes not used: Vaesen, Luntala.

Referee: L Cable (Woking).

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