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Sheffield United 0 Gillingham 0 – match report

Gillingham held out for a second successive goalless draw on Saturday.

An entertaining first half somehow ended without a goal, with hosts Sheffield United hitting the bar and having a penalty appeal turned down.

Gillingham had two penalty shouts of their own rejected in the second half and defended resolutely to claim a point.

Gills skipper Josh Wright in aerial combat at Bramall Lane Picture: Barry Goodwin
Gills skipper Josh Wright in aerial combat at Bramall Lane Picture: Barry Goodwin

It wasn’t the win the Gills were looking for, but the draw extended their unbeaten run to six matches.

United’s promotion hopes were all-but-ended by the stalemate.

Gillingham boss Justin Edinburgh resisted the urge to play returning leading scorer Bradley Dack from the start, instead naming him on the subs’ bench.

With Dominic Samuel missing there was a change up front as Rory Donnelly partnered Luke Norris in attack.

Gills’ other change in their XI was a return for Jake Hessenthaler, making his 100th appearance for the club, but he lasted just half an hour, going off with a mouth injury.

By then there had been a flurry of chances, the majority falling to the home side.

The Blades were almost ahead with just a minute gone. Che Adams caught Edinburgh’s side cold after cutting in from the left and smashed a shot off the underside of the bar.

An end-to-end start saw the Gills almost score from a Ryan Jackson throw. Unpredictable keeper George Long dropped a throw but with his back to goal and the net gaping, Donnelly was unable to hook his effort on target.

Gills keeper Stuart Nelson was being kept busy at the other end, saving from Adams, Ryan Flynn and Paul Coutts. He also needed to be alert to cling onto Billy Sharp’s effort, as he guided a misfire from Coutts goalwards.

Despite all of United’s efforts, the Gills again got a sniff. Brennan Dickenson’s free-kick was played across by Max Ehmer, but Deji Oshilaja was unable to get his header on target.

There were big calls from the home fans for a penalty late in the half as Nelson got to the ball just before Flynn, who went down in the box.

An early second-half chance for Coutts was snuffed out by a Nelson save and a brave block from El-Abd, sporting a bandage following a first-half challenge.

Gillingham had appeals of their own for a penalty five minutes after the restart. Andrew Crofts looked a yard inside the box when he was upended but referee Rob Lewis said it was a free-kick.

With just over an hour gone United’s Matt Done headed wide a great chance at the far post. Moments later Dean Hammond smashed a 25-yard effort just over.

Norris had strong claims for a penalty with 13 minutes left, lashing a shot at goal after Oshilaja’s original effort was blocked. Mr Lewis again said no.

Dack was brought on with eight minutes left but the home side kept the pressure on. El-Abd, who was excellent again, made vital blocks to deny both Chris Basham and Hammond.

Max Ehmer also made a great challenge late on to deny Adams.

Sheff Utd: Long, Basham, Flynn, Coutts, McEveley, Baptiste, Adams, Edgar, Hammond, Done, Sharp. Subs not used: Howard, Woolford, Sammon, Calvert-Lewin, McGahey, Cuvelier, Whiteman.

Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Dickenson, El-Abd, Ehmer, Oshilaja, Wright, Crofts, Hessenthaler (Williams 32mins (Dack 82mins)), Donnelly (McDonald 62mins), Norris. Subs not used: Garmston, Egan, G Morris, A Morris.

Attendance: 18,152 (522 away).

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