Blades 0-0 Gillingham - report
Despite dominating the game from start-to-finish, it was a frustrating afternoon at Bramall Lane on Saturday, as the Blades were forced to share the spoils with Gillingham.
In an action packed encounter which saw United create numerous chances, hit the woodwork and have strong appeals for a penalty, somehow the game finishes goalless, which dents the Blades hopes of mounting a late play-off push.
Adkins selected an unchanged starting XI for the encounter with Gillingham. The Blades boss kept faith with the personnel who provided the foundations for the 2-0 success over Walsall last time out. There were two changes on the bench though, Florent Cuvelier and Conor Sammon replaced Louis Reed and Graham Kelly.
In an end-to-end opening Adams had two shots on goal, firstly rattling the crossbar inside a minute with a thunderous effort, then after El-Abd could only scuff Done's cross to the edge of the area, Nelson was done quickly to his right to save an effort from the 18 yards. At the other end, from a Long fumble following Jackson's long throw, Donnelly lobbed his attempt over with his back to goal.
United continued to look the most likely to break the deadlock with Nelson needed to make a reaction save from Sharp from close-range after Basham had nodded down for Coutts to shoot goal wards.
Meanwhile, Gillingham themselves wasted a golden opportunity to opening the scoring, Ehmer headed across goal from Dickenson's free-kick, but with the goal at his mercy Oshilaja headed into the Kop.
In the 26th minute, Edgar became the first to see yellow for a mistimed challenge on Norris. The Blades continued to force the issue and after Sharp and Flynn failed to make the most of Coutts's threw ball, the Blades were then denied what appeared to be a cast iron penalty as Nelson halted the progress of the onrushing Flynn, but referee Lewis deemed the visiting goalkeeper had made contact with the ball, much to the displeasure of the majority inside the Lane.
As four minutes added time were signalled by the fourth official, Gills skipper Wright went into the book for a cynical tackle from behind on Coutts. But despite controlling the first period, the game was goalless at the interval.
United picked up in the second-half from where they left off in the first, forcing the issue. Coutts found himself bearing down on Nelson in the 50th minute and after the goalkeeper denied him initially, the retreating El-Abd blocked the rebound at the expense of a corner. Then Dickenson saw yellow for halting Adams's progress.
Referee Lewis was at the centre of the attention as he stopped the Blades taking a quick free-kick and in Gillingham's next attack the visitors were claiming a penalty after Adams fouled Crofts, but the man with the whistle pointed for a free-kick, from it Ehmer fired over.
The game was an open affair as the clock ticked past the hour; McDonald was introduced for the Gills, whilst from a pinpoint Sharp cross, Done headed over under pressure from Jackson at the back post. Then from a Adams lay-off, Hammond fired just over. The Blades frustrating afternoon in front of goal continued, as with 15 minutes remaining, following good work by Coutts, Adams and Sharp both failed to connect when the cross only needed a touch to deflect it home.
But in the 78th minute, the hosts survived a scare. Dickenson's free-kick fell kindly for Oshilaja and after his effort was blocked, McEveley made a goal line intervention to deny Norris on the turn. Sharp and then Oshilaja both went into the book in quick succession for late challenges.
Back on the attack, Baptiste volleyed over via a deflection. In the 90th minute, the Blades looked to have finally broke the Gills rearguard, but after Flynn threaded a ball in behind Ehmer, Adams couldn't control the ball as he moved through at pace.
Despite four minutes of added time, the Blades were ultimate frustrated in a game which they dominated.
Blades: Long, Basham, Flynn, Coutts, Sharp, Done, McEveley, Baptiste, Adams, Edgar. Hammond.
Unused: Howard, Woolford, Sammon, Calvert-Lewin, McGahey, Cuvelier, Whiteman.
Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Ehmer, El-Abd, Hessenthaler (Williams 32, Dack 82), Donnelly (McDonald 62), Crofts, Norris, Dickenson, Wright, Oshilaja.
Unused: Garmston, Egan, G. Morris, A. Morris.