Naomi Cole’s spectacular 50th goal for Crawley Wasps was not enough for victory as Gillingham snatched a point late on amid a dramatic and at times chaotic finish.
Skipper Cole hit the bar in the opening minute and Rebecca Carter saw an effort turned away by Gills keeper Cara Davies as Wasps started brightly.
But that was as good as it got for Paul Walker’s side in the first half, with Lauren Graves forced into a save to deny Georgia Pearch.
Tash Stephens finally broke the deadlock 10 minutes into the second half, stooping to head in Cole’s cross.
Both Davies and Graves tidied up well in goal at times to thwart and disrupt attacks and it seemed as if Wasps were heading for a workmanlike win.
But the game exploded into life in the closing stages, with three superb goals and a red card.
First, on 88 minutes, Ellie Jeffkins’ struck a free kick from distance beyond Graves to pull the Gills level, but almost immediately, Cole produced a moment of magic to beat the scrambling Davies from 40 yards to seemingly win it.
However, Wasps failed to manage the game and a quick counter sent Grace Harrison away and her perfect lob over Graves in injury time earned Gillingham a point.
There was still time for Wasps’ Niamh Stephenson to be sent off, deemed to be denying a clear goalscoring opportunity despite being some way out from goal, and that sparked a brief melee.
When that calmed down, Graves gathered in a shot from distance and the spoils were shared.
Wasps: Graves; Nash, Russell, James, Niamh Stephenson; Drury, Cole; Ledezma-Viso, Stow, Stephens (Owen 73); Carter (Pittuck 84). Subs not used: Palmer, Fleischman.