Date: 5th August 2013 at 7:54pm
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The U’s banished the demons of last season on Saturday as a dramatic winner from subsitute Andy Bond got Joe Dunne’s side off to the perfect start.

Following a pre-season full of optimism ahead of the new campaign, a trip to Gillingham opened up the 2013/14 season as Dunne’s men sought to improve on the beginning of last year, where it took nine attempts to pick up a win.

But the U’s made no mistake this time out as they put in an attractive performance against the newly-promoted Gills, before Bond snatched a late winner to secure a 1-0 victory and all three points.

Summer signing Sanchez Watt was missing through injury, but Sam Walker, Ryan Dickson and Craig Eastmond making the starting eleven having joined up with the side during the off-season.

On a warm day in Kent, the U’s passing philosophy and patience went some way to wearing down the hosts, with Dunne’s men having returned early to pre-season training and, arguably, building up better match fitness ahead of the opener.

The best chance of the first half fell to the Gills’ Danny Kedwell, with Sam Walker the U’s hero as he tipped the ball onto the woodwork at full-stretch when it seemed destined for a certain goal.

The striker latched onto the ball midway into the U’s half before, on the half-volley, firing the ball towards the top right corner. Walker stretched to somehow get a touch in front of the away support who would have felt sure they were set to concede.

Despite that, the U’s were carving up their fair share of chances on goal and seeing plenty of the ball in the opening forty-five minutes. Freddie Sears and Craig Eastmond both seeing attempts go close to opening the deadlock.

Just after the break, Brian Wilson earned all the plaudits with a fantastic last-ditch tackle to deny Cody McDonald a goalscoring opportunity, with the former Coventry predator bearing down on Walker in the U’s goal.

Marcus Bean saw a volleyed effort thwarted by the home goalkeeper following good work down the left side by Ryan Dickson, and it was Dickson again who set up a chance for substitute Alex Gilbey who watched his header go straight into the Nelson’s arms.

In between those chances Walker was again to the U’s rescue, getting down quickly to make an impressive double save having watched his first parry rolling towards the onrushing Gillingham forward.

As the game entered its latter stages, however, both Drey Wright and Andy Bond joined Gilbey from the bench and the trio would make a combined impact to seal the first points of the campaign for Joe Dunne’s men.

Gilbey threaded a ball through to Wright who outmuscled his man and turned inside the box, sliding a ball across the area for the onrushing BOND to hit home with his first touch since arriving on the pitch.

Sparking fantastic celebratory scenes in the uncovered away end, the 800-strong away support erupted as the U’s edged into their one-goal lead that would seal all three points.

The season remains a marathon and in its embryonic stages, but an assured away performance will give hope to the travelling U’s fans who will be feeling much more optimistic about the season ahead.

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