GillsConnect News Desk




Gills starting eleven: Stuart Nelson, Alex Lacey, Max Ehmer, Ben Nugent, Connor Ogilvie, Sean Clare (Darren Oldaker 77), Mark Byrne, Scott Wagstaff, Lee Martin (Greg Cundle 71) Conor Wilkinson (Tom Eaves 45) and Josh Parker.

Unused subs: Steve Arnold, Aaron Simpson, Luke O'Neill, Jake Hessenthaler.

Five minutes and a really good chance as Mark Byrne raced down the right in front of the Medway Stand toward the Town End after picking up a decent forward pass. Byrne put Parker through into the area and after beating two players powered a shot that flashed across the face of goal.

Nine minutes in and Scott Wagstsaff was brought down in the area, and with the assistant waving, referee Breakspear gave a belated penalty.

The first goal of the match was stroked home by Mark Bryne (pictured right) who gave Oxford goalkeeper Eastwood no chance as he fired the ball into the bottom corner of the Town End net.

A minute later and Gills could have been two to the good as Conor Wilkinson just failed to get onto the end of a poor clearance by goalie Eastwood.

Oxford get going at last with Mousinho putting a decent pass into the Gills half and taken on by Ricardinho who put a high ball into the Gills area where Obika neatly brings it down for Payne who can't get enough control and his shot goes wide of Nelson’s post. Josh Parker was having a good game and raced into the Oxford area once again, beats Oxford’s Carroll but Mousinho was there to help out and manages to hack clear.

Twenty minutes into the match and the best Gills move came from Mark Byrne, exchanging passes with Scott Wagstaff, who sends Lee Martin down the wing. The Gills captain sent the back quickly to Wagstaff and he crossed swiftly into the area. The ball was controlled by Josh Parker but he was just a tad too slow in turning to find space for a shot and the ball re-bounded off an Oxford defender before bouncing neatly into goalkeeper Eastwood’s arms.

Oxford were beginning to look dangerous on the break and at the other end Ruffels bore down on the byline and crossed low for the alert Obika who had the ball but went down under an Alex Lacey challenge. There were numerous loud appeals for a penalty but referee Breakspear waved away the Oxford protests.

Oxford then scored their equalizer through Jack Payne who finished off a great attacking move started by Carroll, who fed Payne on the right of the Rainham End penalty area. Payne (pictured left) then controlled the ball and created space before shooting across the face of goal into the opposite corner with a great curling strike giving Stuart Nelson absolutely no chance.

The 1-1 half-time score-line was a fair reflection on the game. The worry for Gills is that for all their possession they still cannot seem to generate goals from open play. Their reliance on set-pieces is becoming a sad feature in the majority of their matches. Half-Time: Gills 1 (Mark Byrne (penalty) v Oxford United 1 (Jack Payne).

Boss Steve Lovell decided to make an early change for the second period and top scorer Tom Eaves was sent on to replace Conor Wilkinson, who is certainly lacking in confidence. The Stadium announcer informed the sparse crowd that the official attendance was 1,224 (62 Oxford supporters).

Tom Eaves was involved straight away as he used his strength to hold off an Oxford defender but he was crowded out before winning a free-kick. Referee Breakspear issued a yellow card to Ben Nugent for a crude block tackle that upended Oxford’s goal scorer Jack Payne.

Alex Mowatt was beginning to look dangerous and he put over a decent cross into the Gills area and Payne just missed to the left of goal. It was end-to-end play as Lee Martin puts the ball into the net with a back-heel but unfortunately he was flagged offside. Martin was back in the action a minute later sending over a decent cross for Tom Eaves who nods the ball across the face of goal for the on-rushing Josh Parker, but his headed effort went just wide of the post.

There followed a period of neat midfield play by both teams and a nice move between Obika and Payne ended with the ball arriving at Mowatt’s boot but Connor Ogilvie was alert enough to block his goal attempt. Steve Lovell sent on Greg Cundle replacing Lee Martin in attempt to pep up attacks as Oxford were beginning to get on top and looking the most likely to increase their score. Another Oxford substitute arrived as young Malachi Nappa came on and James Henry finished his stint.

A good chance for Gills came from a corner, struck low by Sean Clare, with Tom Eaves quickest to react but his strike was brilliantly saved by goalie Eastwood turning the ball out for a corner.

Then on 72 minutes came a controversial incident with a ‘Gills goal’ disallowed by the referee and his assistants.

Josh Parker let fly from 20 yards that beat Eastwood and struck the bar bouncing down onto the line. The ball then bounced out to be cleared for a corner but with protests from Gills, and of course, Josh Parker (pictured right).

Without goal-line technology it was difficult to say if the ball had crossed the line but television replays showed that it was clearly over and Gills were ‘robbed’.

Disappointing for all Gills supporters. Boss Lovell sends on Darren Oldaker replacing Sean Clare who had put in a decent performance. Ten minutes left and a superb block by Connor Ogilvie to prevent Oxford’s Nappa from getting his shot away from close in. At the other end, following a break-away, Greg Cundle tried to finish off a good team move but his effort was also blocked.

Then Oxford United booked their place in the last eight of the Southern section of the CheckaTrade Trophy with a tremendous strike from Alex Mowatt from fully 20 yards that beat Stuart Nelson all ends up. Cruel way for Gills to exit the competition, especially following the Josh Parker ‘goal’ plus a close miss from a Darren Oldaker free-kick right on time. However, the continued failure of Gills to score from open play was ultimately their downfall.

Mark Byrne

scores the

penalty and it’s

his first goal

this season