Published: 16:45, 25 September 2021
| Updated: 19:25, 25 September 2021
Alex MacDonald found the net from distance to claim a point for Gillingham against his former team Oxford United.
Matty Taylor struck a fifth minute opener and also hit the woodwork before MacDonald scored with half an hour gone to level. Gillingham survived plenty of second half pressure to take a point back to Kent.
Gillingham’s play-off hopes took a major hit last season with a 3-2 loss at the Kassam Stadium but at least they scored. They hadn’t managed a goal in their previous six visits and their last win was over a decade ago.
History was of little importance when the teams kicked off the latest instalment. Young striker Gerald Sithole was only eight when Cody McDonald’s goal earned the Gills their last win in Oxford back in 2010.
Teenage striker Sithole was making his first league start for the club on Saturday while Danny Lloyd’s impressive midweek showing off the bench against Charlton also earned him a place in the eleven.
The Gills took some time to warm up and found themselves behind after just five minutes. Herbie Kane’s ball over the top deceived Jack Tucker and Taylor stroked the ball home after running onto the pass.
Taylor almost doubled the lead moments later as his header came off the frame of the goal.
Lloyd tried his luck from distance but home goalkeeper Jack Stevens got his body in the way.
It was another shot from long range that levelled the game, MacDonald finding the bottom corner from around 30 yards out. The midfielder - making his 50th appearance for the Gills - has a promotion medal from playing with Oxford earlier in his career and chose not to celebrate.
MacDonald’s effort was certainly better than the one during the warm-up that ended up in the car park behind the goal and into the arms of a young kid who helped himself to a souvenir football.
Oxford striker Taylor was always a threat and had headed a couple of chances wide for the hosts while at the other end Lloyd hit a shot onto the roof of the net and another in first half stoppage time that bounced out and was nearly converted by Sithole.
The home side enjoyed the better of the early second half chances. Cameron Brannagan had a shot turned over by keeper Jamie Cumming and Alex Gorrin put a header wide of the mark from a corner.
Gillingham continued to come under pressure and with an hour gone made a change upfront as John Akinde returned from injury to replace Sithole. Visiting keeper Cumming had to deal with several dangerous balls into the box to keep it level; punching, catching and saving with his feet as the hosts pressed.
Taylor went close again with 12 minutes left, after Akinde had lost possession, forcing Cumming into a reflex block and then punching clear from under his bar. Elliott Moore was next to be denied by the busy Chelsea loanee.
A rare mistake from Cumming saw him drop a shot after a collision but Billy Bodin wasted the chance from a couple of yards out. Referee Darren Drysdale also waved away late penalty claims after a challenge from Jack Tucker on Mark Sykes.
Gills had penalty claims of their own ignored when a defender fell onto the ball but the referee wasn't interested.
Oxford bossed the possession and had more shots but finished the game no better off than the Gills.
Oxford: Stevens, Long, Thorniley, Moore, Gorrin (Bodin 68mins), Brannagan, Taylor, Henry (Sykes 63mins), Whyte, Kane (Agyei 90mins), Seddon. Subs not used: Eastwood, Williams, Forde, McNally.
Gillingham: Cumming, Bennett, McKenzie, Ehmer, Tucker, MacDonald, Dempsey, Lee (Adshead 71mins), Lloyd, Sithole (Akinde 58mins), Oliver. Subs not used: Chapman, Tutonda, Kelman, Reeves, Adshead, Akehurst.
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Attendance: 6,604 (362 away)