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Oxford United 3 Gillingham 0 – League 1 match report

Gillingham were soundly beaten as their miserable run was extended at Oxford.

Jack Payne put the hosts ahead early in the second half, signalling a rapid Gills collapse.

Joe Rothwell doubled the lead moments later and Rob Hall added a third. All three goals came in an eight-minute spell.

Captain Lee Martin is back from suspension Picture: Ady Kerry
Captain Lee Martin is back from suspension Picture: Ady Kerry

Gabriel Zakauani returned from international duty, one of three changes to the XI, but the Gills couldn’t keep the hosts out. Oxford were more creative on the ball and the pressure on the visiting goal eventually paid off.

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Alex Lacey battles for the ball Picture: Ady Kerry
Alex Lacey battles for the ball Picture: Ady Kerry

Jake Hessenthaler made his first league appearance of the season in place of Billy Bingham (concussion) while Conor Wilkinson replaced Liam Nash upfront.

The Gills were eight without a win in League 1 prior to their match at the Kassam Stadium. That run was stretched to nine as Oxford ran away with it early in the second half, scoring the goals that their first half showing had warranted.

Gillingham made a bright start to the match and should have been ahead with six minutes gone, after Lee Martin picked out Wilkinson with a cross. The Gills striker, who was unmarked, missed the target with his header.

Conor Wilkinson challenges for the ball Picture: Ady Kerry
Conor Wilkinson challenges for the ball Picture: Ady Kerry

Ben Nugent headed a corner over the bar soon after but Oxford moved up a gear with 15 minutes left, bossing the rest of the half and limiting the Gills to just half chances.

John Obika missed a glorious opportunity for the hosts, blazing a shot into the car park from eight yards out after Rob Hall had laid the ball into his path. It looked like being a certain goal.

Oxford forward Jack Payne was a constant menace for the Gills, linking up some great moves for the hosts, but they reached the break on level terms, without a goal.

Tomas Holy had made several saves, but despite the pressure he hadn’t been overly troubled. For the Gills, Tom Eaves was denied by Curtis Nelson’s good block and Mark Byrne put a shot wide.

Oxford kept the pressure up from the off in the second half and were soon rewarded, three minutes from the restart. Rob Hall had a shot saved and when Obika found Payne, the forward found the net with a flicked effort from close-range.

Oxford proceeded to then finish the Gills off, scoring twice more within 10 minutes. Rothwell raced clear to double the lead after a good interchanged between himself and Payne.

A third goal soon arrived as the Gills were left chasing shadows. Zakuani found himself in no-man’s land, trying to fend off two oxford players. Obika found Hall and his shot crept in past Holy’s near post.

Pennock swapped his strikers immediately, but it was a hopeless task by then.

Substitute Wes Thomas diverted a Ricardinho cross over the bar just moments after coming on the pitch, with the goal open, as Oxford looked to increase the misery for Gillingham.

There were rare chances at the other end. Martin forced a save from underworked home keeper Simon Eastwood with 20 minutes left and Hessentaler put a shot wide.

Substitute Max Ehmer volleyed wide for Gills while Holy had to stay alert in goal, getting down low to deny Gino Van Kassell from a 90 minute fourth.

Gillingham: Holy, Ogilvie, Wagstaff, Lacey, Zakuani (Ehmer 76mins), Nugent, Martin, Byrne, Hessenthaler, Eaves (Parker 57mins), Wilkinson (Nash 57mins). Subs not used: Arnold, O’Neill, Oldaker, Clare.

Oxford: Eastwood, Carroll, Ricardinho, Mousinho, Nelson, Ledson, Rothwell, Henry (Van Kessel 59mins), Hall, Payne (Thomas 65mins), Obika (Mowatt 65mins). Subs not used: Shearer, Martin, Ruffels, Williamson.

Attendance: 6,730 (382 away)

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