Match Report


Sat 23 Jan 10

The U's got their first point of 2010 on Saturday, as they battled to a 0-0 draw against Gillingham.

Whilst it was never a pretty encounter, the U's got stuck in against a side that had only lost twice at home all season and, prior to the start of play, had the eighth best home record in the division.

Chances were at a premium, although John-Joe O'Toole forced a fine save out of Alan Julian and Kevin Lisbie smacked the crossbar with a header in the last ten minutes of the match.

But, having conceded twelve in their last two matcdhes, it was an important point for the U's as they gave themselves a foundation to build from, going into a hectic period of fixtures.

U's boss Aidy Boothroyd made a number of changes as his side looked to get back to winning ways in the match against Gillingham on Saturday.

Christian Ribeiro was thrown straight in for his debut in place of John White, Paul Reid returned in the heart of defence as Danny Batth dropped to the bench and John-Joe O'Toole took David Fox's midfield berth.

Kevin Lisbie's back injury saw him drop to the substitutes' bench with Kayode Odejayi starting up front, as the U's look for a change of fortunes.

New boy Ribeiro was in the thick of the action early on as he came up against his team-mate from Bristol City Tristan Plummer down the U's right hand side.

And whilst chances were limited early on, it was the home side that went close first of all. Okuonghae opted to let the ball drop over his shoulder from Wynter's lofted effort forward, and Jackson's lobbed effort just eluded the far post as Williams watched on.

The Gills were stroking the ball around well, but the U's resisted their pressure in the opening moments of the game.

The visitors should have taken the lead on nine minutes as persistent play by Ribeiro down the right got the ball into the danger area and Odejayi just managed to get a stabbed effort towards goal that was cleared off the line by the Gills defence.

The U's went close again from a corner as the ball glanced off O'Toole's shoulder and across the six yard box, and they were enjoying a good spell with the ball as the quarter hour mark approached.

They had another good chance on sixteen minutes when a long throw into the box was flicked on by Platt to Odejayi. He in turn helped it onto the head of Wordsworth, who couldn't generate any power with his header as it went straight to Julian.

Two minutes later, Ifil cut inside his man down the right and, on his weaker left foot, hit an effort which was well blocked by the onrushing Gills defence.

Good work down the right by the Gills midway through the half saw Jackson throw over a cross to the far post, which it looked like Bentley might meet - only for Howe's header to take it away from his team-mate.

Tierney was gaining the wrath of the home fans as he was involved in a number of tasty challenges with opposition players and his running battle saw Barcham go in the book for a foul on 27 minutes after catching the U's left back with a late tackle.

At the other end, Odejayi was looking sharp but the Gills came strong just after the half hour mark, with Jackson an ever-present threat for the home team.

But, on the occasions that the home team threatened, the U's back line was resolute, with Ribeiro and Tierney superb down either wing to protect the rest of the back four.

Wynter went into the book as injury time in the first half got underway, hauling down Ifil after the U's man had tricked his way past to create a dangerous crossing position.

The teams went in all square at the break, but the U's almost went in front with a wonder strike sixty seconds after the restart. Platt knocked down to O'Toole some thirty-five yards out and he smashed an effort that forced a fine stop out of Julian.

The Gills soon built up a head of steam though, winning a series of corners in the opening ten minutes of the half to put the U's under pressure.

Despite that, the U's had a chance of a counter attack but, as Odejayi returned the ball to Wordsworth in front of goal, he couldn't quite control it and the chance was gone.

At the other end, it looked like Bartram had found space at the far post to get a shot away. His first touch sent him away from goal and Ribeiro showed great tenacity to eventually fend off the wide man.

Down the other flank, Tierney sent over a dangerous cross that O'Toole got onto, but saw his header deflected wide for a corner.

They also went close as Ifil managed to earn himself some space on the edge of the box, only for his effort to be deflected away for a throw, before Platt then had a third effort turned away for a corner kick.

The U's could not afford to rest on their laurels and were hit on the counter by the Gills on the hour mark. Izzet wrestled with Barcham and the U's blocked two shots before eventually clearing. The U's midfielder went into the book for his tug on the Gills wide man when play stopped.

The Gills were bouncing back and substitute Rooney, introduced on the hour mark, and debutant Howe forced Williams into low saves in quick succession, with the U's defending manfully under pressure.

Looking for a way to take the initiative, the U's replaced Odejayi with Gillespie for the final quarter of the match.

Gillingham were hitting the U's on the counter attack, with the pace of Barcham and Jackson causing problems, so the U's responded in kind by adding Lisbie into the side in place of Platt.

The front man got his head onto a free kick from the right with fourteen minutes to go, but it flashed well wide of the upright.

Wordsworth escaped the referee's book for a foul on Bentley with twelve to go, and then drove a free kick from thirty yards out well over the crossbar.

But the U's smacked the woodwork six minutes from time as a surging run from Ribeiro ended with a cross to the near post that Lisbie met in fine style. It looked like Julian just got a hand to it, to help it onto the crossbar before it was hooked away to safety.

The U's were finishing the game in the Gills final third, and pressuring the home defence as the clock wound down to the ninety minute mark.

Four additional minutes were shown, but neither side could contrive the chance to win the game and the U's picked up another important point in their quest for promotion.

U's: Williams, Ribeiro, Okuonghae, Reid, Tierney, Ifil, Izzet, O'Toole, Fox, Wordsworth, Odejayi (Gillespie 67), Platt (Lisbie 73)

Subs: Cousins, White, Batth, Fox, Elito
    Data provided by Press Association

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