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Sheffield United 2 Gillingham 2 – League 1 match report

Gillingham frustrated league leaders Sheffield United on Saturday.

Billy Sharp put the home side ahead just after the half-hour mark.

Josh Wright turned the game on its head with a double after the restart but Kieron Freeman levelled things up again.

Josh Wright scores his second goal Picture: Barry Goodwin
Josh Wright scores his second goal Picture: Barry Goodwin

Goalkeeper Stuart Nelson then pulled off a string of top class saves to deny United a winner.

Reaction: "It's just the start" says head coach Ady Pennock

Pennock made three changes to his starting line-up for the trip to the League 1 leaders.

Paul Konchesky was missing from the squad as the Gillingham head coach preferred Deji Oshilaja at left-back.

Cody McDonald and Jake Hessenthaler were back in the XI, at the expense of Billy Knott and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. New keeper Tomas Holy made the trip but hadn’t received international clearance in time.

Elliott List on the ball for the Gills Picture: Barry Goodwin
Elliott List on the ball for the Gills Picture: Barry Goodwin

The Gills were short on clear-cut chances in the opening half. Elliott List drove at the United defence with a positive trademark run but his shot was wide of the mark.

Visiting keeper Nelson was kept busy and he palmed away an early shot from Chris Basham. Caolan Lavery almost got in a couple of times before Sharpe broke the deadlock.

Reaction: Nelson confident of keeping no.1 shirt after top performance

He latched onto a ball through Gills’ defence and finished well past Nelson.

The United striker had chances to extend the lead, twice trying his luck with low shots, but was twice foiled by smart Nelson saves.

There was a change at the break as central defender Chris Herd, who was involved in a nasty collision early on, was replaced by Emmanuel Osadebe.

The Gills were level early in the second half. Wright picked the ball up inside the box, evaded a couple of challenges, before firing home past keeper Simon Moore.

Home fans were stunned on 58 minutes when Wright popped up in the box to put the Gills 2-1 ahead, prodding the ball into the net, after Ryan Jackson’s long throw wasn’t cleared.

Gillingham didn’t have the lead for long. United had twice been denied by the linesman’s flag before Freeman fired in an equaliser, after Nelson had done well to save the initial shot.

Nelson saved well from Marc McNulty with 15 minutes left and moments later Max Ehmer headed a corner wide at the other end.

Gills keeper Nelson continued to thwart the hosts, making a great save to deny McNulty again and then pulling off a point-blank stop to deny United from the subsequent corner.

Bradley Dack volleyed wide for the Gills in stoppage time but they were able to leave with a hard-fought point.

Sheffield United: Moore, Fleck, O’Connell, Basham, Done (Scougall 80mins), Coutts, Freeman, Ebanks-Landell, Duffy, Lavery (McNulty 72mins), Sharp. Subs not used: Ramsdale, Wright, Riley, Wilson, Reed.

Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Herd (Osadebe 46mins), Ehmer, Oshilaja, Wright, Hessenthaler (Byrne 84mins), List (Donnelly 56mins), Wagstaff, Dack, McDonald. Subs not used: Hadler, Knott, Dickenson, Emmanuel-Thomas.

Attendance: 20,649 (307 away)

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