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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 August, 2003, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Sheff Utd 0-0 Gillingham
Peter Ndlovu is thwarted by Gillingham's John Hills
Both sides were full committed in a brusing encounter

Sheffield United and Gillingham had to settle for a goalless draw after a hard-fought opening-day encounter at Bramall Lane.

In the first half, the home side pressed continually in search of a goal but were thwarted by Gillingham's well-organised defence.

But the second 45 minutes were a different story as the visitors began to move up the pitch in the hope of snatching a winner.

Blades midfielder Michael Tonge came closest to breaking the deadlock for last season's beaten play-off finalists with a stunning 30-yard free-kick, but not for the first time Gills keeper Jason Brown was equal to it.

United gave home league debuts to defenders Chris Morgan and Chris Armstrong but their back four had little to do in a one-sided frist half.

United should have taken the lead after 13 minutes when Wayne Allison blasted over from close range from Tonge's pinpoint cross.

Allison was partnered in attack by another Sheffield new boy, Jack Lester, who tested Brown with a long-range effort.

Brown also had to be at his sharpest to keep out Tonge's shot from Peter Ndlovu's cross.

Ndlovu then flashed a 25-yarder of his own just wide as Neil Warnock's side looked to step up a gear with half-time in sight, but to no avail.

Gillingham's best chance in the opening 45 mintues came midway through the first half when Nicky Southall drilled a 20-yard shot wide.

After the break, Gillingham began to grow in confidence and it was United on the back foot.

The Blades soaked up the pressure and Warnock threw on new signing Ashley Ward and Paul Peschisolido in a desperate effort to clinch the points.

It nearly paid off right in the closing moments when a nice one-two between Ward and Tonge forced a great save from Brown but in the end, a draw was a fair result.

Sheff Utd: Kenny, Jagielka, Morgan, Page, Armstrong, Ndlovu, Rankine, Brown, Tonge, Allison, Lester. Subs: Kozluk, McCall, Ward, Peschisolido, Parkinson.

Gillingham: Brown, Southall, Ashby, Hope, Cox, Hills, Spiller, Shaw, Saunders, Nosworthy, Sidibe. Subs: Bartram, Hessenthaler, Tommy Johnson, Rose, Perpetuini.

Referee: G Laws (Tyne & Wear)

Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock
"We had enough chances to win"



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