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Gillingham 3 Oxford United 1: Goals from Vadaine Oliver, Jacob Mellis and Jordan Graham win League 1 encounter


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Gillingham came under plenty of pressure against Oxford United but three quality efforts earned them the points.

Goals from Vadaine Oliver and Jacob Mellis put the Gills two goals ahead at the break but Daniel Agyei poked home shortly after the restart. Nerves were calmed when Jordan Graham bagged his fifth goal of the season.

Gillingham celebrate their opening goal against Oxford United Picture: Barry Goodwin
Gillingham celebrate their opening goal against Oxford United Picture: Barry Goodwin

There was just one change to Gillingham’s line-up from their last league outing, with Declan Drysdale starting in place of Tom O’Connor, who missed out after being called up for international duty.

The visitors, wasteful throughout, were back in league action after their last match was called off late because of Covid-19 issues. Preparations for this one weren’t ideal as they were forced to change in a makeshift dressing room in the Medway Stand family section, due apparently because of rising coronavirus infections locally. Many opted to get into their kit before leaving the team hotel.

Visiting forward Daniel Agyei had an early shot blocked and a cross that came close to being turned in by Matty Taylor but he couldn’t beat Gills keeper Jack Bonham, who made several top saves in the half.

Gillingham went a goal infront after 18 minutes when Graham’s cross was met by Oliver and he guided the header into the bottom corner.

Action between Gillingham and Oxford United Picture: Barry Goodwin
Action between Gillingham and Oxford United Picture: Barry Goodwin

The lead was doubled four minutes later. Ogilvie won the ball back off former Gills player Sean Clare and when Mellis’ first attempt was blocked, the ball came back to him and he bent it home on the half volley from the edge of the box.

Oxford responded well and dominated the rest of the half. How they didn’t score was a mystery. Cameron Brannagan had the best of the chances. From two yards out he screwed the ball wide when all he had to do was tap home Anthony Forde’s cross.

Gillingham’s defence were getting behind plenty of efforts and Bonham was in super form, saving with his legs from Taylor before a reflex block was even better to deny Josh Ruffels. Ogilvie was there to clear off the line.

The break couldn’t come quick enough for the Gills as Taylor headed another chance into Bonham’s arms. They reached half time with the lead still at 2-0.

Action between Gillingham and Oxford United Picture: Barry Goodwin
Action between Gillingham and Oxford United Picture: Barry Goodwin

Gillingham kept with the same setup for the second half. Mellis screwed an early chance wide for the home side and within three minutes of the restart Oxford had a goal back.

Taylor rose to meet a cross, he was unable to convert, but when the ball dropped in the box Agyei was there to stick out a foot and the ball rolled in.

Another chance came Gills’ way when Clare was dispossessed, losing out to Graham, who let Mellis take on the shot and it was drilled just wide.

Oxford keeper Simon Eastwood then pulled off a stunning save. With his vision blocked by several players, he stuck out a hand to divert a sweet strike from Josh Eccles wide of the goal. Soon after Graham saw his dipping free-kick go just over the bar as the hosts enjoyed a good spell.

Taylor should have levelled on 65 minutes but the wastefulness Oxford showed in the first half returned. Forde’s excellent free-kick only needed nodding in but the visiting striker headed into the ground and the ball bounced up to clear the bar.

Action between Gillingham and Oxford United Picture: Barry Goodwin
Action between Gillingham and Oxford United Picture: Barry Goodwin

Gillingham needed security of a two-goal cushion and they got it when Graham swept home Ryan Jackson’s cross with 70 minutes gone.

Bonham saved again to deny Ruffels from a corner and frustrated the same player as he arrived late to head at goal from open play. The Gills keeper was alert again to dive on the ball as a corner dropped at the feet of Elliot Moore and was deflected goalwards.

Oxford continued to fail infront of goal. James Henry drilled a good chance wide with 12 minutes left.

Despite all of the Oxford chances, Samuel could have made it 4-1. Eastwood got down well to save as he found himself free inside the box. Oliver couldn't score the rebound.

Henry had a couple of chances blocked and Sam Winnall's weak header was claimed by Bonham. Samuel could have sealed it with a chance on the break but shot wide. Oxford had over 30 chances at goal in the match and fired a stoppage-time free-kick over the bar.

Chairman Paul Scally applauds third goal at Priestfield Picture: Barry Goodwin
Chairman Paul Scally applauds third goal at Priestfield Picture: Barry Goodwin

Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, Ogilvie, Tucker, Medley, Drysdale, Eccles, Mellis (MacDonald 84mins), Graham, Samuel (Woods 90mins), Oliver (Akinde 90mins). Subs: Walsh, Maghoma, McKenzie, Coyle.

Oxford United: Eastwood, Clare, Ruffles, Long, Moore, Brannagan, Forde, Kelly (Hall 81mins), Henry, Agyei (Winnall 78mins). Taylor. Subs: Stevens, Gorrin, Sykes, Winnall, McGuane, Hanson.

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