Oxford United 0 Gillingham 0

First published in Sport Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Sports Reporter covering Oxford United. Follow us on twitter: @oxfordmailoufc. Call me on 01865 425458

RYAN Clarke made four terrific saves as Oxford United became the first team to take points off npower League Two leaders Gillingham, who had won all their previous away games.

The goalkeeper, dropped to the bench for the previous two games, made a spectacular double save early in the game and denied Deon Burton on two other occasions.

It kept United in the game during an opening 50 minutes which the Kent side largely controlled.

But after the break the home side did most of the pressing.

Alfie Potter, who hit the crossbar in the first half, saw one effort tipped over, while Tom Craddock wasted the best chance late on.

Although United might have taken all three points, the draw was another step forward after ending their losing streak with a victory against AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday.

United made four changes to their starting line-up. Three of them were enforced, with Wayne Brown, Lee Cox and Michael Raynes all failing to recover from injuries picked up in midweek.

Clarke, Adam Chapman and new signing Johnny Mullins took their places, while Simon Heslop came in for Tom Craddock, who dropped to the bench.

Gillingham arrived five points clear at the top of npower League Two and should have been ahead inside three minutes.

A cross from the left found top scorer Danny Kedwell in space. The striker's volley was parried by Clarke, who then tipped Adam Barrett's follow-up round the post to complete a stunning double save.

United spent much of the first half looking to contain the Gills and ended up playing more like an away side - putting men behind the ball and looking to break on the counter.

One such move on six minutes saw Deane Smalley released and when the striker teed up Sean Rigg the shot flew just wide.

The U's struggled to keep the dangerous Chris Whelpdale quiet. The midfielder glanced one header wide and had another effort cleared off the line by Jake Forster-Caskey.

Ten minutes before the break came the hosts' best chance of the half.

A quick break saw Rigg stand up a cross to the back post, which Potter headed on to the crossbar. With the rebound Smalley swivelled a volley over the top.

Damian Batt became the latest player to succumb to an injury, limping off with what looked like a groin injury late in the half. Daniel Boateng replaced the right back.

On the stroke of half time Clarke made another inspired save, keeping out Deon Burton's close range header. United recovered to block Matt Fish's rebound and keep the game scoreless.

The United goalkeeper made another smart stop early in the second half, turning Burton's curling shot round the post.

Another injury, this time to Smalley, forced a change, with Craddock preferred to James Constable.

The replacement laid on a good chance for Potter, whose rising shot was tipped over the bar by Stuart Nelson. It was the U's first attempt on target, after 56 minutes.

But the longer the game wore on, the more United came into the game.

Heslop had, by some distance, his best game of the season, while Potter and Rigg looked threatening on the ball.

But despite forcing a host of corners they could not find a way through the meanest defence in the division.

Constable came on for the closing stages and the striker created a great chance within moments.

Chapman blocked a clearance straight to the substitute, who ran into the area and crossed for Craddock, whose shot was deflected over by the excellent Tom Flanagan.

It was the final clear opening and although United finished strongly, they could not find a breakthrough.

Gillingham's final scare was a penalty appeal for handball on Barrett, but the referee waved away the protests.

United: Clarke, Batt (Boateng 42), Mullins, Wright, O'Brien, Chapman, Heslop, Forster-Caskey, Potter (Constable 82), Smalley (Craddock ht), Rigg.

Unused subs: Crocombe, Capaldi, Leven, Worley.

Gillingham: Nelson, Fish, Barrett, Flanagan, Martin, Whelpdale, Wright (Montrose 55), Payne, Weston (Findley 60), Kedwell, Burton (Frampton 71).

Unused subs: Forecast, Davies, Dack, Strevens.

Referee: Iain Williamson.

Attendance: 6,690 (1,014 visitors).

Comments (7)

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7:22am Sun 7 Oct 12

adlibber says...

Not conceding a goal to league leaders is decent - not taking our chances is poor. What's happened to Constable? Is he happy to take wages and sulk on the bench? He's nowhere near the player has was two seasons ago. Need to keep up the momentum and go on a decent unbeaten run. This is dejavu for last three seasons. Win a couple lose a lot pick up a few draws etc etc, nestle in mid table and on it goes. Wilder isn't doing it for me at all anymore I think we're relying on luck and hope more than developing a system that ensures better performances. Port Vale will be a tough test and I'd like to think we will do far better this time round than pathetic way we performed on last game of last season.

The brightest moment of the weekend was Swindon being given a transfer embargo - Seems the club can't do anything straight. I think the fake tanned fascist might be off soon.
Not conceding a goal to league leaders is decent - not taking our chances is poor. What's happened to Constable? Is he happy to take wages and sulk on the bench? He's nowhere near the player has was two seasons ago. Need to keep up the momentum and go on a decent unbeaten run. This is dejavu for last three seasons. Win a couple lose a lot pick up a few draws etc etc, nestle in mid table and on it goes. Wilder isn't doing it for me at all anymore I think we're relying on luck and hope more than developing a system that ensures better performances. Port Vale will be a tough test and I'd like to think we will do far better this time round than pathetic way we performed on last game of last season. The brightest moment of the weekend was Swindon being given a transfer embargo - Seems the club can't do anything straight. I think the fake tanned fascist might be off soon. adlibber
  • Score: 0

7:42am Sun 7 Oct 12

Chish and Fips says...

Jeeze AL - Hope your weekend improves if that is the 'highlight'.

Your shower ground out a fair result there - well the goalie did by the sounds of it .

Have a good week you lot.
Jeeze AL - Hope your weekend improves if that is the 'highlight'. Your shower ground out a fair result there - well the goalie did by the sounds of it . Have a good week you lot. Chish and Fips
  • Score: 1

8:22am Sun 7 Oct 12

adlibber says...

Well we all need something to cheer us up Chish and PDC's continuing antics as the most spoilt manager in the football league is always a source of amusement. As for us it's a worry when our goalkeeper is MoM!

Onwards and backwards.
Well we all need something to cheer us up Chish and PDC's continuing antics as the most spoilt manager in the football league is always a source of amusement. As for us it's a worry when our goalkeeper is MoM! Onwards and backwards. adlibber
  • Score: -4

11:10am Sun 7 Oct 12

bigchet says...

gritty display by all concerned , and a very welcome and deserved point , as against wimbledon owed a lot to the keepers for vital saves in the first few minutes we must not allow opponents to dominate the early exchanges as if you concede early it allows them to dictate play, i know this is stating the obvious but it happens too often. clarke was fantastic and mullens had a great debut but the injury jinx struck again and cw has no chance of putting out a settled side. the same performance and the same result at vale would be great so fingers crossed.
gritty display by all concerned , and a very welcome and deserved point , as against wimbledon owed a lot to the keepers for vital saves in the first few minutes we must not allow opponents to dominate the early exchanges as if you concede early it allows them to dictate play, i know this is stating the obvious but it happens too often. clarke was fantastic and mullens had a great debut but the injury jinx struck again and cw has no chance of putting out a settled side. the same performance and the same result at vale would be great so fingers crossed. bigchet
  • Score: 4

6:39pm Sun 7 Oct 12

The Manager says...

When will Wilder realise that we do not have a striker who is good enough to play up front on his own. Once again no surprises as we play an away formation at home. However I have to say that it was good to see a good performance from the defenders who really did do well despite Batt having to go off injured with brilliant displays from Clarke and especially Mullins who had only met the team for the first time in the morning. One does wonder though what is the problem between Wilder and Constable which needs to be sorted out for the sake of the club.
When will Wilder realise that we do not have a striker who is good enough to play up front on his own. Once again no surprises as we play an away formation at home. However I have to say that it was good to see a good performance from the defenders who really did do well despite Batt having to go off injured with brilliant displays from Clarke and especially Mullins who had only met the team for the first time in the morning. One does wonder though what is the problem between Wilder and Constable which needs to be sorted out for the sake of the club. The Manager
  • Score: 2

9:33am Mon 8 Oct 12

BigOx22 says...

Wilder doesn't like constable SIMPLE. Something has gone on but no one is letting out what happened. Mullins is 100 times better then Raynes. We need to play constable upfront on Tuesday. Not just he might get a goal but his physical ability upfront. He make defenders think twice. We have to back to team nothing is going to change any time soon. Maybe if we get a miracle happen in January and Clayton Donaldson joins the club we wont have a top Striker at the club.
Wilder doesn't like constable SIMPLE. Something has gone on but no one is letting out what happened. Mullins is 100 times better then Raynes. We need to play constable upfront on Tuesday. Not just he might get a goal but his physical ability upfront. He make defenders think twice. We have to back to team nothing is going to change any time soon. Maybe if we get a miracle happen in January and Clayton Donaldson joins the club we wont have a top Striker at the club. BigOx22
  • Score: 1

9:42am Mon 8 Oct 12

eatmygoal says...

adlibber wrote:
Not conceding a goal to league leaders is decent - not taking our chances is poor. What's happened to Constable? Is he happy to take wages and sulk on the bench? He's nowhere near the player has was two seasons ago. Need to keep up the momentum and go on a decent unbeaten run. This is dejavu for last three seasons. Win a couple lose a lot pick up a few draws etc etc, nestle in mid table and on it goes. Wilder isn't doing it for me at all anymore I think we're relying on luck and hope more than developing a system that ensures better performances. Port Vale will be a tough test and I'd like to think we will do far better this time round than pathetic way we performed on last game of last season.

The brightest moment of the weekend was Swindon being given a transfer embargo - Seems the club can't do anything straight. I think the fake tanned fascist might be off soon.
Beano needs a few starts. He can't score from the bench.

He is the last player to 'sulk on the bench'. Totally commited to the club.

Swindon being handed an embargo is quite amusing, as is their 'ladies' losing to ours. We own them........
[quote][p][bold]adlibber[/bold] wrote: Not conceding a goal to league leaders is decent - not taking our chances is poor. What's happened to Constable? Is he happy to take wages and sulk on the bench? He's nowhere near the player has was two seasons ago. Need to keep up the momentum and go on a decent unbeaten run. This is dejavu for last three seasons. Win a couple lose a lot pick up a few draws etc etc, nestle in mid table and on it goes. Wilder isn't doing it for me at all anymore I think we're relying on luck and hope more than developing a system that ensures better performances. Port Vale will be a tough test and I'd like to think we will do far better this time round than pathetic way we performed on last game of last season. The brightest moment of the weekend was Swindon being given a transfer embargo - Seems the club can't do anything straight. I think the fake tanned fascist might be off soon.[/p][/quote]Beano needs a few starts. He can't score from the bench. He is the last player to 'sulk on the bench'. Totally commited to the club. Swindon being handed an embargo is quite amusing, as is their 'ladies' losing to ours. We own them........ eatmygoal
  • Score: 1

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