Gillingham 0 Oxford United 1
Adam Birchall is challenged by Oxford's Jake
Wright. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Gillingham’s stuttering home form continued on Tuesday night as
they were beaten by Oxford United.
Alfie Potter stunned the Gills with a
goal five minutes from time to seal the points for the
It was the Gills’ sixth home defeat of
the season and third since the start of the year, but they remain
two points clear at the top of League 2 after second-placed Port
Vale also slipped up on home soil, losing to Exeter City.
Adam Birchall was picked to partner
Deon Burton up front as he made his first start since the home draw
with York City at the end of January.
He was in as replacement for Cody
McDonald, who was recalled from his loan spell the day before by
parent club Coventry City. Returning to the line-up and joining
Birchall in attack was Deon Burton, with newcomer Antonio German on
Elsewhere in the team there was a
change of roles for Chris Whelpdale, as the midfielder replaced
injured Matt Fish at right-back.
Little separated the sides in the
first 45 minutes as both had opportunities in front of goal in an
opening half littered with stoppages as Oxford went down easily
under Gillingham challenges.
But it was the Gills who were forced
into making a change just before the break when Myles Weston
limped off injured. He had been a threat with runs down either
flanks and a shot that rippled the side netting.
The best Gills chance fell to Weston’s
replacement, Bradley Dack. Just seconds after coming on he lashed a
knock-down from Burton straight at Luke McCormick.
Oxford striker Deane Smalley was a
handful for the home defence and Gills keeper Stuart Nelson was
kept busy, making several saves to keep the visitors at bay.
Chances weren’t very forthcoming at
the start of the second half, with Charlie Lee finding the roof of
the net with a looped effort just before the hour. Several timely
challenges from Leon Legge kept Oxford under control at the other
A Steven Gregory shot from distance
was blocked on route to goal by Tony Capaldi, but McCormick was
having little to do in front of the Rainham End.
Gills boss Martin Allen made a change
in the latter stages with Danny Kedwell – back from a hamstring
injury – and German coming on.
A rare chance at goal saw Oxford’s
Sean Rigg attempt a chip, but that went sailing over with 10
minutes left. A half-chance from German for the Gills was
comfortably held by McCormick.
But a goal finally arrived with
five minutes left, and it was Oxford who got it, as Potter
chased a ball through the defence and tucked it away across Nelson
into the bottom corner.
Gillingham: Nelson, Whelpdale, Martin,
Barrett, Legge, Gregory (Kedwell 76mins), Lee , Robinson, Weston
(Dack 37mins), Birchall (German 73mins), Burton. Subs not used:
Forecast, Davies, Williams, Richardson, Kedwell.
Oxford: McCormick, Batt, Raynes,
Wright, Chapman, Heslop (Duberry 87mins), Smalley (Constable
73mins), Rigg, Potter, Capaldi, Davis. Subs not used: Worley,
O’Brien, Parker, Craddock, Crocombe.
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