Oxford United 0-0 Gillingham
Gillingham remain unbeaten on their travels this season after drawing 0-0 with Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday.
The visitors had the best chances and could have won the game with Adam Barrett, Deon Burton and Matt Fish all going close in the first half, only to be denied by an in-form Ryan Clarke in the Oxford goal.
In the second half it was the hosts that had more of the ball but only once was Stuart Nelson called into making a save as the teams eventually settled for sharing the points.
The result keeps the Gills at the top of the table; three points clear of nearest challengers Port Vale.
Martin Allen made just one change to the team that beat Northampton during the week with Charlie Allen missing out through suspension, so Myles Weston returned in midfield.
Tom Flanagan kept his place in the heart of defence with Danny Kedwell partnering Deon Burton in attack.
Oxford included new loan signing John Mullins in their starting line-up with Simon Heslop and Adam Chapman returning.
Gillingham had two fantastic chances to take the lead inside the opening three minutes. A cross to the back post was met by a thunderous effort from Kedwell but could only sting the palms of Clarke.
The follow up was met by Adam Barrett but Clarke got up quickly to deny his header from creeping in. The resulting corner saw David Wright fire over from just outside the penalty area.
Sean Rigg then had the first chance for the hosts – Tom Flanagan failed to beat Deane Smalley to the ball on the left flank and he was able to play in the midfielder on the edge of the box, but his effort was well wide of Stuart Nelson’s left hand post.
On 10 minutes Chris Whelpdale very nearly opened the scoring following some fine play in the final third. Weston played in Joe Martin on the left side and he whipped in an inviting cross, but to his disappointment the header was just off target.
The visitors were creating most of the chances in the early stages but found Clarke in fine form as Oxford did their utmost to get a foothold on the game and maintain possession.
Whelpdale was again involved on 20 minutes when a near post corner was met with a firm header, but Forster-Caskey was covering the far post and helped get the ball to safety.
The game went through a quiet spell with both sides struggling to keep hold of the ball, but it was Gillingham who threatened next when Weston’s cross went inches wide of the cross bar and Kedwell was unable to get his foot to it before going out of play.
Oxford came even closer shortly afterwards. Rigg’s cross was met by the head of Alfie Potter and in attempting to clear his lines Flanagan could only push it on to the bar before a follow up attempt was dealt with by the defence.
Before the whistle there was still time for the Gills to be denied once more. Another Weston cross found Burton at the back post, his header was blocked before Matt Fish’s effort was eventually cleared.
Three minutes in to the second half and the Gills created yet another opportunity – Burton managing to find a yard of space inside the box and unleashing a left foot effort which Clarke could only push wide.
The Oxford keeper on several occasions denying the visitors – Gillingham starting the half very much on the front foot.
However on 55 minutes Nelson was called upon for the first time, Alfie Potter broke forward and from inside the box tried to place an effort in the top corner but the Gills keeper was alert and tipped it wide for a corner kick.
The crowd would have to wait 27 minutes before the next meaningful action. Two Oxford substitutes, Tom Craddock and James Constable, combined to create one of their best opportunities of the game.
Constable broke free on the right and played in Craddock as he got to the byline. The striker hit it first time but the shot was always rising and Nelson was untroubled.
Both sides pushed to grab a winner late on, but following five minutes of stoppage time they had to settle for a point each with the home fans thankful for a top class display from their goalkeeper.
Oxford: Clarke, Batt (Boateng 43), Wright, Chapman, Heslop, Smalley (Craddock 45), Rigg, Potter, Forster-Caskey, O’Brien, Mullins.
Unused subs: Crocombe, Constable, Capaldi, Leven, Worley.
Gills: Nelson, Fish, Barrett, Flanagan, Martin, Whelpdale, Wright (Montrose 54), Payne, Weston (Findley 58), Kedwell, Burton (Frampton 70).
Unused subs: Forecast, Davies, Dack, Strevens.
Attendance: 6690 (1014 Gills)
Bookings: Findley (72), Kedwell (88)
Referee: Mr I Williamson