Gillingham stretch their lead at the top of League Two to five points with an epic win at New York Stadium
The Gills fielded a significantly changed line-up for their first appearance at Rotherham’s new New York Stadium, with Stuart Nelson, Andy Frampton, Charlie Lee, Jack Payne and Danny Kedwell all returning to the starting XI.
With both sets of fans creating a cauldron like atmosphere, the game got off to a high tempo start and Gills had skipper Adam Barrett to thank, in the fifth minute, as he climbed above the home strike-force to head clear Nardiello’s dangerous centre.
That said neither keeper had a save to make before former Millers forward Deon Burton put the visitors in front on 12 minutes. Charlie Lee’s deep throw was flicked on by Kedwell on the right of goal, allowing Burton to slot pass the keeper from seven yards.
Soon after the home side were forced to make a change after an accidental collision between captain Ian Sharps and the Gills goalscorer. Sharps left the field with what looked like a broken nose to be replaced by Jack O’Connell.
Seconds later the Millers had a chance to equalise from a free-kick from the right side of the Gills penalty box. It was struck goalwards by Michael O’Connor, Nelson could only parry it but Fish and Lee managed to clear, under pressure from the Rotherham forwards.
On 23 minutes the hosts should have been level after Nardiello’s deft through ball sent O’Connor one on one with Stuart Nelson, O’Connor took a touch to round the keeper but lost his footing and with the goal at his mercy could only put the ball out for a goal-kick.
Nelson was called into action again four minutes later, pulling off a stunning stop to deny Jason Taylor’s drop volley. Rotherham also went close in the 34th minute, Nardiello turning Fish and Frampton before crashing his finish into the side netting.
Seven minutes before the half time interval Deon Burton, who had been the target for the home fans frustrations since kick-off, was shown a yellow card after clipping the heels of Ben Pringle.
After a stoppage in play, following a clash of heads involving Charlie Allen, Rotherham threatened to level the scores again. Warrington’s free-kick was helped into the area by Revell but Arnason couldn’t find the
finish from a yard out.
Moments later, at the opposite end, Gills were desperately unlucky not to extend their advantage as Danny Kedwell turned a great ball back across goal, it carried to Jack Payne at the far post, sadly his shot flew the wrong side of the crossbar.
Rotherham continued to pile on the pressure, Nardiello twice spurning openings in the first five minutes of the half. The first effort saw the winger head a Pringle free-kick onto the roof of the net before lashing wide of the mark, from the edge of the area, on 50 minutes.
After half chances from Allen and Lee, Gills silenced the Rotherham crowd once again in the 57th minute as Deon Burton grabbed his second of the game. Lee and Vincelot were involved in the build-up but the Gills striker showed great strength to shrug off two defenders before placing his finish beyond Warrington and into the far corner for 2-0.
Ten minutes later after the Millers had had a vocal penalty appeal waved away by the referee, Stuart Nelson pulled off another exceptional stop to keep the hosts at bay. In the confusion following the appeal, sub Cameron crossed for the unmarked Revell only for Nelson to push his header over from point blank range.
Moments later Charlie Allen earned a booking for a late challenge in the centre of the park before Rotherham pulled a goal back on 69 minutes. A cross was cleared to Jason Taylor who returned it with interest from 25 yards into Nelson’s right corner.
With the home side’s tails up Martin Allen made a double substitution with 20 minutes to go to strengthen the spine of his team, Myles Weston and Lewis Montrose the men to come on for Payne and Burton.
Lee Frecklington twice went close to levelling the scores soon after, first he headed Pringle’s free-kick just wide at the near post before flashing a powerful drive wide of the far post from almost the exact same
spot that Taylor has netted five minutes earlier.
There was a lengthy stoppage in play with fifteen minutes remaining after Jason Taylor flattened Romain Vincelot. The French midfielder lay prone on the pitch for several minutes before being helped from the field to be replaced by Bradley Dack.
Soon after the restart Matt Fish found himself in the book for a clumsy challenge on Courtney Cameron. Then with two minutes of normal time remaining Jack O’Connell headed onto the crossbar from a Pringle short corner.
The travelling supporters could be forgiven for feeling edgy at the fourth officials award of 11 minutes of time added on but their nerves were almost settled 90 seconds later as long ball sent Myles Weston through on goal, unfortunately the strikers finish flashed just wide of the mark.
Stuart Nelson collected a booking shortly after for time wasting at a goal kick, he was followed into the book soon after by Charlie Lee, after the ref decided he took too long over a throw-in. There was still time at the death for Montrose to pull off a crucial block to deny Frecklington a shot at goal as the Gills hung on for a stunning away win.
Attendance: 8029 (511 Gillingham)
Gillingham: Stuart Nelson, Matt Fish, Joe Martin, Andy Frampton, Jack Payne (Lewis Montrose 70), Charlie Allen, Charlie Lee, Deon Burton (Myles Weston 70), Danny Kedwell, Adam Barrett, Romain Vincelot (Bradley Dack 83)
Subs not used: Tommy Forecast, Adam Birchall, Danny Jackman, Devante McKain
Rotherham United: Andy Warrington, Johnny Mullins, Ian Sharps (Jack O’Connell 18), Kari Arnason, Liam Ridehalgh, Michael O’Connor (Courtney Cameron 64), Jason Taylor, Lee Frecklington, Daniel Nardiello (Kayode Odejayi 89), Ben Pringle, Alex Revell
Subs not used: Scott Shearer, Nicky Hunt, Kieran Agard, Luke Rooney
Referee: A. Haines
Assistants: S. Meredith & D.Gratton
4th Official: A Greenwood