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16:05 4th September 2016

Gillingham 1-2 Blades - report

Gillingham 1-2 Blades - report

A last minute penalty from Billy Sharp earned United a first away win of the season.

The skipper stepped up to take responsibility following a late handball. Kieron Freeman had already levelled after Bradley Dack had given Gillingham the lead.

Boss Wilder made two changes from the starting XI that defeated Oxford for this televised clash. O'Connell returned to the starting line-up and Lafferty made his debut. With three central defenders selected, it was quickly clear that there was a change in system. Ebanks-Landell was on the bench, whilst Lavery missed out due to the fact that he is not match fit.

The initial 25 minutes were quite open, although the only serious opportunity came early, as the home side went close. McDonald escaped the attentions of both O'Connell and Wright but Moore was quickly off his line to make a block.

For United, O'Connell brought the ball out of defence to force the game's first corner for the visitors and there was a penalty appeal when Freeman fell under Oshilaja's challenge but referee Handley was unmoved.

On 27 minutes the Blades went close on the breakaway. Wright beat McDonald and after Coutts had a touch in the midfield, Duffy's 25-yard shot was on target before Bond parried away. Soon after, the visitors went close again but Ehmer blocked from Sharp after Duffy and Done had forced a mistake.

United were made to rue the missed opportunities, however, when Gillingham took the lead with their next attack. Lafferty was booked for a foul on McDonald and from the resulting free-kick DACK curled in, with the assistance of the near post.

United were quickly back on the front foot. A Lafferty free-kick was deflected wide and from the next corner, Basham met a delivery from Coutts but the header was held by Bond.

For the remainder of the half the Blades looked the brighter side and despite being unable to level, the players were applauded off by the 408 travelling supporters at the interval.

The Blades started the second period well with two chances falling to Sharp in the first ten minutes. From Duffy's pass, the skipper held off Jackson before shooting at Bond and then headed wide a Lafferty cross.

Just after the hour Ebanks-Landell was introduced for his debut, taking over from Wilson, whilst Moore was forced to push away a long-range Byrne shot.

The deserved leveller arrived on 65 minutes, from an unlikely source. Done, just before being replaced by Clarke, won a header in the penalty area and after Sharp swivelled and played across the box, FREEMAN forced home from close range.

Dack had the opportunity to shoot with another free-kick but handed responsibility to Emmanuel-Thomas, who fired straight at Moore. At the other end, Clarke shot wide at the near post from Duffy's cross after good work by Basham as the game entered the final 15 minutes.

From an O'Hara free-kick on 82 minutes, Moore dropped but Ebanks-Landell blocked from Ehmer and the action continued as Clarke beat Bond in a race but the Blades were unable to capitalise.

Byrne fired wide for Gillingham but there was more drama for the cameras. The watch was ticking around to 90 minutes when Freeman and Basham linked up for the latter to cross, which saw Sharp shaping to shoot before Pask stuck out an arm, handing a penalty. Skipper SHARP took responsibility and fired home in front of the travelling fans.

Three minutes added time was being shown as Sharp dispatched the penalty and the additional minutes were played out professionally before Wilder offered his celebration to the supporters.

Gillingham: Bond, Jackson, Ehmer, Oshilaja, McDonald, Knott (Pask 45), Konchesky, Dack (O'Hara 77), Byrne, Wright, Emmanuel-Thomas (Donnelly 77).
Unused: Nelson, Osadebe, Oldaker, List.

Blades: Moore, O'Connell, Basham, Sharp, Done (Clarke 67), Wright, Coutts, Freeman, Wilson (Ebanks-Landell 61), Duffy (Scougall 86), Lafferty.
Unused: Long, Hussey, Fleck, Whiteman.