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22:38 8th February 2011

Cody McDonald celebrates his brace


An excellent all-round team performance saw the Gills deservedly claim the scalp of third-placed Rotherham United.

The victory, which came thanks to two more goals from in-form striker Cody McDonald, which took his tally to 17 for the campaign, and a first of the season for Dennis Oli saw the Gills rise into sixth, their highest position in the League Two table so far.

It was an entertaining game straight from the kick-off with three good goals, a number of chances at both ends, some good saves, a fair amount of decent football and a couple of skirmishes to boot.

With leading striker McDonald coming through a late fitness test, there was one change to the Gills starting line-up with Jack Payne coming into the team in place of Joe Martin who suffered a broken cheekbone in training.

Curtis Weston played in the hole behind the front two with Payne slotting in on the right of a narrow midfield three alongside Kevin Maher and Danny Jackman.

It was a lively start and moments after Ryan Taylor had drilled a right-foot shot narrowly wide at one end, the Gills opened the scoring in their next attack.

Six minutes were on the clock when McDonald burst through the visitors defence onto a flick from both Adebayo Akinfenwa and Weston to shoot home via the body of Andy Warrington.

Just over a minute later the Millers were level. A free-kick awarded for a foul by Garry Richards on Ian Thomas-Moore saw Nicky Law curl home a sweet free-kick round the wall and wide of Alan Julian into the corner of the net.

McDonald was surprisingly finding plenty of room and he soon put a header straight at the keeper and had a long-range effort blocked.

With 25 minutes gone, what looked like a groin injury saw Matt Lawrence forced to be replaced, and after 19 months out, having been injured in a pre-season friendly at Bromley in July 2009, Simon King returned to first-team action. He was warmly greeted by the Gills fans.

In the 29th minute, Weston received the first yellow card of the evening. Having dinked the ball over Tom Newey he caught keeper Warrington with his boot as the custodian dived at the ball. After treatment Warrington was able to walk to the touchline holding his bloodied head where he was replaced by Jamie Annerson.

Annerson had little to do before the Gills went two-up in the 36th minute. Maher clipped a nice ball over the visitors rearguard for the in-form striker to chase and he used his body to keep Johnny Mullins away before turning the defender both ways before firing a fierce shot across the keeper and inside the far post.

Fuller made a great run into the area which came to a crashing halt but despite penalty appeals referee Darren Sheldrake waved play on.

In stoppage time Julian had to be alert to make a save from a decent curling strike from Ryan Taylor.

H/T: 2 - 1

Seven minutes into the second-half another burst into the area by Fuller saw a great low, left-foot shot from the Gills skipper tipped away from the oncoming McDonald by Annerson.

Moments later a harmless tackle on Jason Taylor by Fuller sparked an unnecessary skirmish between a number of players. If Adam Le Fondre hadn't got himself involved, he pushed Fuller, then nothing would have happened. As it was as several players barged in but it wasn't good to see Jason Taylor going down theatrically as Akinfenwa arrived on the scene.

Amazingly after talking to both assistants, the referee issued a deserved yellow card to Le Fondre but also Akinfenwa.

Just after the hour, Weston saw a fierce shot come back off the chest of Annerson and seemingly into the path of McDonald but with the goal at his mercy his shot headed towards the small band of 64 Rotherham supporters up on the Town End.

Two minutes later the Norwich City loanee cut in from the left but was again denied by the keeper who got his angles right to block the shot.

Another chance for McDonald came in the 66th minute, Weston played in a great cross from the right but the strikers downward header bounced over the top.

Three minutes later another fine cross from Weston was headed over the top by Jack Payne who had McDonald breathing down his neck.

After making his second substitution at the break, on-loan Arsenal midfielder Mark Randall replacing Marcus Marshall, Ronnie Moore made his third change with 19 minutes remaining. Luke Ashworth taking the place of Johnny Mullins.

The missed chances could have proved costly as the Millers began to put pressure on the Gills defence.

In the 76th minute United finally fashioned their first opening of the second-half, a ball in from the left by Newey came off King's head and fell invitingly for Law. His well-struck shot was brilliantly turned round his left-hand post by Julian.

From the resulting corner, the leading scorer in League Two Le Fondre, got his first sniff of goal but put his overhead kick wide of the target.

Almost immediately at the other end Akinfenwa played in McDonald but the striker dragged his left-foot effort across the face of goal.

There was a major let-off for the Gills with five minutes of normal time remaining. A short corner routine led to a low strike from the edge of the area by Randall which Julian managed to parry but only to Le Fondre who managed to prod the loose ball over the open goal from six yards.

In the 88th minute the Gills made the game safe with a third. Akinfenwa's never-say-die attitude saw him continue to battle for the ball before Fuller was eventually able to pick out McDonald. He had two shots blocked and the second ran loose to substitute Dennis Oli who was on for Weston. Keeper Annerson made a fine save to keep out his left-foot shot but was powerless as Oli rammed home the rebound, with his right, at the near post.

McDonald did have the ball in the net again but the flag was up for offside before, rather greedily, seeing another shot blocked by Nick Fenton, although both Oli and Danny Jackman were well positioned.

Mark Bentley replaced Jackman with a minute to go but there was still time for a great curling corner from the hard-working Maher to be finger-tipped away by Annerson as a number of Gills players converged at the far post.

The game, a superb advertisement for League Two, ended shortly afterwards and the result meant the Gills unbeaten run was extended to four games.

Attendance: 4924 (64 Rotherham)

Gillingham: Julian, Fuller, Richards, Lawrence (King 25), Nutter, Weston (Oli 84), Maher, J.Payne, Jackman (Bentley 90+3), McDonald, Akinfenwa.

Unused subs: Cronin, Rooney, S.Payne, Miller

Rotherham United: Warrington (Annerson 32), Tonge, Mullins (Ashworth 71), Fenton, Newey, Marshall (Randall H/T), Law, J.Taylor, Thomas-Moore, Le Fondre, R.Taylor.

Unused subs: , Harrison, Green, Ellison, , Bradley.

Referee: Darren Sheldrake
Assistants: John Hopkins and David Rock
Fourth Official: David Margetts


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.