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Gillingham 1 Oxford United 1 – League 1 match report

By Luke Cawdell

Conor Wilkinson struck with a late equaliser against Oxford to clinch a point for the Gills.

Both sides lacked any real quality during the opening half but Richardinho Silva opened the scoring early in the second for the visitors.

The Gills levelled the League 1 match when Oxford were unable to clear from a corner and Wilkinson pounced from close range.

Conor Wilkinson celebrates his equalising goal Picture: Andy Jones
Conor Wilkinson celebrates his equalising goal Picture: Andy Jones

Reaction: Gills boss happy with the point after poor spectacle


Gillingham boss Steve Lovell made just one change to his team as Jake Hessenthaler replaced the injured Scott Wagstaff.

The Gills were buoyed by back to back league wins. The last time the Gills won three on the spin in the league was during the 2015 festive period.

Despite those league wins, the Gills were unable to replicate the same quality against Oxford, but did at least avoid defeat.

Sean Clare on the ball for Gillingham Picture: Andy Jones
Sean Clare on the ball for Gillingham Picture: Andy Jones

The visitors were smarting from a 7-0 hiding to Wigan last time out and they looked determined not to make that happen again, throwing themselves infront of many Gills shots and crosses.

It was Oxford’s second trip to Priestfield in December, winning on their last visit in the Checkatrade Trophy, after the Gills had a seemingly legitimate goal ruled out by the officials.

The Gills had started the game on top but struggled to make keeper Simon Eastwood work. The best chance came from Luke O’Neill’s low cross, missing the onrushing Tom Eaves by a fraction.

Tom Eaves goes for a header Picture: Andy Jones
Tom Eaves goes for a header Picture: Andy Jones

Oxford were limited to shots from distance, Jon Obika with a couple of efforts that Tomas Holy comfortably dealt with. Their best move ended with Gino Van Kessell volleying over from close range.

Referee Nicholas Kinseley might have faced some questions had the move resulted in a goal, as Sean Clare looked to have been fouled by Ryan Ledson in the build-up.

Gillingham - who switched from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2 after half an hour - only had two on-target efforts in the opening half, a weak shot from Clare and a glancing header from Eaves, neither which troubled keeper Eastwood.

Josh Parker in action against Oxford United Picture: Andy Jones
Josh Parker in action against Oxford United Picture: Andy Jones

The Gills went behind after 52 minutes when Ricardinho’s shot from the edge of the box took a deflection and found the bottom corner.

Clare put a chance over for the Gills and Parker dragged an effort wide while at the other end Max Ehmer had to hack the ball clear after Holy was unable to hold onto Rothwell’s shot.

Lovell made a double switch with 20 minutes left, hoping to make a difference by introducing Conor Wilkinson and Greg Cundle, the two men taking over upfront.

Gillingham celebrate their late equaliser against Oxford Picture: Andy Jones
Gillingham celebrate their late equaliser against Oxford Picture: Andy Jones

O’Neill fired a shot into the side netting and the game opened up in the latter stages as the Gills grew more desperate.

Wes Thomas had a great opportunity to put the game beyond the Gills, when put in on goal, but his lobbed effort was poor and Holy claimed the ball.

The equalising goal came after 87 minutes when Clare's corner caused chaos in the Oxford box, Eastwood saved a headed effort off Elliott List, but substitute Wilkinson was on hand to smash the ball home.

Gillingham: Holy, O'Neill, Ehmer. Zakuani, Ogilvie, Hessenthaler, Byrne (List 80mins), Clare, Martin (Wilkinson 68mins), Eaves (Cundle 68mins), Parker. Subs not used: Nelson, Lacey, Nugent, Oldaker.

Oxford United: Eastwood, Martin, Ledson, Thomas (Henry 82mins), Ruffels, Rothwell, Obika, Carroll, Ricardinho, Mousinho, Van Kessell (Payne 61mins). Subs not used: Shearer, Tiendalli, Williamson, Fernandez, Mowatt.

Attendance: 5,555 (440 away)

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