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Oxford United 1 Gillingham 0 – League 1 match report

Gillingham’s mini revival came to an abrupt end at Oxford on Tuesday night.

Marvin Johnson did the damage, putting Oxford ahead at the break, although the Gills did hit the woodwork through Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and they had a couple cleared off the line.

Johnson’s goal was enough for Oxford as the Gills and boss Justin Edinburgh were left to contemplate another defeat.

Reaction: "We deserved something from the game," says the Gills boss.

Gillingham challenge for the ball in foggy conditions Picture: Barry Godwin
Gillingham challenge for the ball in foggy conditions Picture: Barry Godwin

Edinburgh named an unchanged side for the trip to Oxford, with Frank Nouble and Chris Herd additions to the bench, at the expense of Darren Oldaker and Rory Donnelly.

With back-to-back league wins behind them, the Gills were aiming to make it three in a row, something they last did over the festive period last year.

There was to be no repeat of that as the Gills slipped to defeat at a gloomy Kassam Stadium that was shrouded in fog for much of the game.

It was Oxford who started the game the brighter with Rob Hall a constant threat. He put a good chance wide early on after bursting through the Gills defence.

Gillingham were wasteful with the ball at times, with numerous passes overhit. Scott Wagstaff volleyed one effort well over and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas dragged another wide.

Cody McDonald had a good chance to break the deadlock on the half hour mark, turning his marker on the edge of the box with a great bit of skill, but the shot was straight at keeper Simon Eastwood.

Two minutes later and Oxford took the lead. Marvin Johnson scored the goal after finding space in the box, following an interchange of passes with Hall, drilling the ball past Stuart Nelson.

The Gills had some good chances towards the end of the half, with McDonald’s chance from a Dack corner being blocked on the line by the keeper.

Hall put another good chance wide for Oxford, after catching the Gills on the counter-attack, but seconds before the half-time whistle went the equaliser nearly arrived. Emmanuel-Thomas hit the bar with a looping header and Dack’s follow-up was blocked on the line.

Fog reduced the visibility in the second half but neither team made any protests about the conditions.

Oxford were again the brighter team from the kick-off and Hall’s pace won him a free-kick on the edge of the box off Wagstaff. Chris Maguire’s set-piece delivery lacked quality.

Chairman Paul Scally watches from the stands Picture: Barry Goodwin
Chairman Paul Scally watches from the stands Picture: Barry Goodwin

A good spell from the Gills around the hour mark came to nothing and ended with Oxford almost scoring. Maguire found the roof of the net following Kane Hemming’s flick.

Emmanuel-Thomas’ low shot was saved by Eastwood at one end, while at the other, Cargill and Ehmer both had to make crucial blocks to deny the home side.

Gills forward Emmanuel-Thomas continued to look like Gills’ best hope for an equaliser and Eastwood was forced into saving one-handed with five minutes left.

Oxford: Eastwood, Lundstram, Nelson, Maguire, MacDonald, Hemmings (Taylor 86mins), Edwards, Hall (Ruffels 65mins), Ledson, Johnson, Dunkley (Martin 75mins). Subs not used: Buchel, Rothwell, T Roberts, Raglan.

Gillingham: Nelson, Wagstaff, Konchesky, Cargill, Ehmer, Hessenthaler, Wright, Knott (Nouble 64mins), Dack, McDonald, Emmanuel-Thomas. Subs not used: Hadler, Oshilaja, Herd, Cundle, Byrne, Osadebe.

Attendance: 6,848 (301)

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