Sheffield United secured a spot in the fourth round of the FA Cup with a commanding 4-0 triumph over League Two’s Gillingham.
Will Osula notched a pair of goals, marking his contributions to the tie, while James McAtee also scored twice, showcasing a stellar performance in Kent.
Despite making five changes to the starting lineup, Manager Chris Wilder fielded a formidable team for the first visit to Priestfield since 2016.
The refreshed starting 11 included McAtee, Gustavo Hamer, Cameron Archer, Femi Seriki, and Rhys Norrington-Davies. Noteworthy was the presence of new signing Ben Brereton-Diaz on the bench, alongside young defender Evan Easton.
Sheffield United initiated the scoring opportunities, with Luke Thomas launching a low shot that Jake Turner managed to secure. Shortly after, Conor Masterson’s goal-bound attempt for the hosts was thwarted by Jack Robinson.
In the 14th minute, United took the lead. McAtee skillfully progressed with the ball, delivering a pass into the channel where Osula had made a well-timed run behind the defence. Evading Max Ehmer, the striker sprinted past and unleashed a low shot beyond Turner.
The chance for a second goal presented itself soon after when Turner’s error led to the ball breaking loose towards Archer, who struggled to make a clean connection, but in fairness the ball did bobble on what was a terrible pitch.
A rapid sequence involving Archer positioned Andre Brooks favourably for a shot, but his 20-yard effort missed the target. The Blades continued to create opportunities, with Robinson coming close to converting Hamer’s looping free-kick.
On the 39th minute mark, the score extended to 2-0. Seriki unleashed a powerful shot from 25 yards, and when Turner could only parry his daisy cutter into a perilous area, Osula was poised to convert from close range.
As the first half concluded, Thomas received a yellow card, while the Gills posed a threat with Oli Hawkins’ header from Connor Mahoney’s free-kick requiring Wes Foderingham to make a low save.
Just before the break, Osula approached a hat-trick opportunity as Archer’s deflected shot fell kindly to him, but he fired over from 16 yards.
Gillingham squandered a golden opportunity 10 minutes into the second half as Hawkins headed over from Mahoney’s corner. That pair were a constant threat for the home side all afternoon.
On the opposite side, Hamer narrowly missed the target with an angled effort, and a promising sequence from Archer concluded with McAtee’s attempt sailing over.
Archer seemed determined to find the back of the net, coming close just past the hour mark with a well-connected effort that cleared Turner’s bar. Moments later, he found himself in a favourable position again, but this time Turner parried his deflected shot.
Brereton Diaz made his debut, stepping in for Osula as Wilder made changes for the final stages.
The home team intensified their efforts, with Mahoney’s deflected shot hitting the side netting. Just over 10 minutes before the end, Ehmer’s header from Mahoney’s delivery struck the inside of the post and rolled to safety.
United secured their spot in the fourth round on the 83rd minute when Norwood threaded a pass through two Gillingham defenders, allowing McAtee to smash the ball beyond Turner.
McAtee found the net again in the 88th minute from a short corner, with Hamer delivering to United’s playmaker, who expertly placed a shot into the bottom corner, followed by his signature acrobatic celebration in front of the traveling supporters.
Before the final whistle, Brereton Diaz was denied a debut goal as Turner made a solid low save with his legs, but he may have opted to square it to Brewster instead for a tap in.