Thursday, 20 February 2014

Pushing On Part Three: Gillingham Down

Gillingham 0
Sheffield United 1
Priestfield Stadium
Attendance 5,766

Away Blades 351

It has been nearly ten years since The Blades last visited Priestfield, and a lot has changed, no longer are we one of the big boys looking for an easy three points, we are stragglers in the division looking to grab a win and run. Like many fans I was anxious about the game after seeing the starting eleven, but in football there is no better reassurance than three points. Playing three at the back and dropping the likes of Brayford, Baxter, Scougall and Murphy was a big gamble in my eyes, but this time we had a winning bet. As a miniature sub plot to this game Ben Davies the new loanee from Derby, signed only just over an hour before kick off was meant to start the game, but heavy traffic meant he was dropped to the bench and did not even arrive at the game until late on. Gillingham undefeated at home in 2014 were looking to keep their run going but we had other ideas.

Gillingham did start the brighter team and in the opening exchanges tested Mark Howard via a Connor Smith hit low and hard towards to bottom corner. Despite a few scrambles and weak efforts from The Gills United didn't really look like conceding and chances were far and few between. Bob Harris had a chance to apply some pressure to the home team but his free kick went straight to the keeper. The goal came as Chris Porter fired a hard shot towards goal from point blank range, after bouncing off the crossbar the ball ended up at the feet of Flynn, he calmly rolled the ball into the path of Coady who slotted it underneath the opposition defenders and keeper to give United the lead. As Half Time sounded half the job was done.

The second period required United to be disciplined, to keep working hard, but we knew we could not just sit back and soak up pressure that would be disastrous. Another half with minimal chances saw United control the game. The lead was nearly doubled as Harry Maguire found himself in space to get on the end of a corner, but his effort on goal could not penetrate the wall of Gills defenders in front of the goal. Another chance was denied again cleared of the line following a corner, Harris put the ball in and Paynter unleashed at goal, but The Gillingham defense managed to hack it away. Ben Davies made his debut coming on as a substitute but by then all The Blades needed to do is continue the dictation of tempo. Gillingham could have grabbed a last gasp equalizer but Legges header was straight at Howard. The final whistle gave United only their second league away win of the season and three priceless points towards survival. Today had to be seen as a huge success, a makeshift team had done the business, Harry and Neil were rocks at the back and definitely generals when it came to keeping the game in United control. Flynn continued to be dangerous and as an added bonus Davies looks like he could be a good player given the chance to make a proper impact next time out. We have ticked box number on on our quest to push on.

-Jonathan Gascoigne

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