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Gillingham 0 Sheffield United 4: Will Osula and James McAtee score twice in FA Cup third round match at Priestfield

Gillingham came off second best as Premier League strugglers Sheffield United eased to victory at Priestfield.

Hopes of an FA Cup shock against the Blades looked unlikely by half-time after Will Osula had struck twice to put the visitors two goals up in the third round tie. The Gills might have made a game of it had Max Ehmer’s header gone in rather than bouncing to safety off the post before James McAtee added a late double for a 4-0 scoreline.

Oli Hawkins looks to win the ball for Gillingham Picture: @Julian_KPI
Oli Hawkins looks to win the ball for Gillingham Picture: @Julian_KPI

Sheffield United made five changes to the team which started last time out, at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium. They turned up at Priestfield sitting bottom of the Premier League without an away win all season and in need of a lift.

Despite the league woes of their visitors, the Gills knew they were up against top-class players, but with back to back wins of their own, Stephen Clemence’s League 2 side knew they had a chance.

The Gills started the match positively enough but were vulnerable to Sheffield United’s counter-attack and the Blades took a 14th minute lead.

Gillingham’s right wing-back Cheye Alexander was bright early on as he had slipped in Conor Masterson for an early chance that got blocked.

When Alexander again found himself in an advanced position, after showing great control to bring down Max Ehmer’s long ball forward, he was dispossessed on the edge of the United box after neither passing or shooting and in a flash the visitors were in front.

Scott Malone challenged by Femi Seriki Picture: @Julian_KPI
Scott Malone challenged by Femi Seriki Picture: @Julian_KPI

James McAtee fed the ball to Osula and he cut in before beating keeper Jake Turner at his near post. There was silence at Priestfield as the home fans were defeated and the visiting supporters at the other end weren’t sure the ball had gone in.

Archer nearly scored a second soon after, following a mix-up at the back between a defender and Turner, but that effort was blocked.

United made it 2-0 on 39 minutes as Osula got his second, rolling the ball in from the other side to his opener, this time after Turner had parried a long range shot from Brooks into the striker’s path.

Gillingham’s best two moments - aside from Masterson’s early opening - were both flagged for offside with Dom Jefferies hitting the net with a volley and United keeper Foderingham saving well from a Hawkins header.

Gillingham’s Ethan Coleman under pressure from Andre Brooks Picture: @Julian_KPI
Gillingham’s Ethan Coleman under pressure from Andre Brooks Picture: @Julian_KPI

The Gills didn’t see much of the ball early in the second half but won a couple of corners, the second of which was just a fraction short of being met by Hawkins.

Clear-cut chances remained hard for the Gills to create against a United side happy to sit on their two-goal advantage but Mahoney went close to pulling a goal back with a shot deflected out for a corner.

Scott Malone - match-winner in Gills’ previous two league games - tried to make things happen from the left flank but United stood firm.

Max Ehmer almost halved the deficit with 10 minutes left, meeting Mahoney’s free-kick with a header, but the ball bounced to safety off the inside of the post.

Turner saved well to deny visiting substitute Rhian Brewster but McAtee made it three with eight minutes left, firing home unmarked.

McAtee got his second of the match and a fourth for Sheffield United when he was picked out from a short corner as the Gills were caught napping and he once again smashed it past Turner with just three minutes remaining.

Dom Jefferies looks for options as Gills take on Sheffield United Picture: @Julian_KPI
Dom Jefferies looks for options as Gills take on Sheffield United Picture: @Julian_KPI

Gillingham: Turner, Alexander (Clarke 60mins), Malone, Masterson, Ehmer, Ogie, Coleman, Jefferies (Lapslie 86mins), Mahoney (Dieng 86mins), Hawkins (Bonne 86mins), Nadesan (Nichols 60mins). Subs not used: Morris, Clark, S Williams, McKenzie.

Sheff Utd: Foderingham, Thomas, Seriki, Robinson, Norrington-Davies, McAtee, Norwood, Hamer, Archer (Diaz 72mins), Brooks (Souza 77mins), Osula (Brewster 72mins). Subs not used: Davies, McBurnie, Coulibaly, Osborn, Buyabu, Easton.

Referee: Darren Bond

Attendance: 8,801 (1,266 away)

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