Cody McDonald's 83rd minute strike secures a point for hard working Gillingham at SpotlandA late Cody McDonald strike earned Gillingham a point in a 1-1 draw against Rochdale at Spotland on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts had a number of chances to win the game having gone in front courtesy of Peter Vincenti’s first half opener, but failed to beat Stephen Bywater for a second time and they paid for their missed chances when Cody McDonald pounced late on to clinch a draw.
Peter Taylor made six changes to the side that lost against Scunthorpe with Matt Fish, Kortney Hause, Leon Legge, Jake Hessenthaler, Amine Linganzi and Brennan Dickenson returning to the starting XI.
Jermaine McGlashan and Luke Norris had to make do with a place on the subs bench, with the near fully fit Danny Kedwell joining them for company.
John Egan was named Captain with Doug Loft suspended for three matches following his sending off against the Iron.
Aaron Morris sat out after picking up a hamstring problem.
Gillingham started brightly with Linganzi nearly finding Bradley Dack with a good through ball behind the left back – the midfielder was alert but so was keeper Conrad Logan who quickly came out to smother.
On nine minutes Dale had the ball in the back of the net, but that was a good few seconds after the referee had blown to signal Captain Ian Henderson was offside at the back post.
This gave the hosts a lift and enjoyed the majority of possession in the exchanges that followed, Pritchard blocking a shot from Matt Done before a low shot by Vincenti forced a simple save for Bywater.
Cody McDonald had a decent shout for a penalty waved away on 20 minutes prior to another Vincenti effort, this time a header from a corner which went well over the bar.
However five minutes later they did take the lead. A corner kick worked its way out to Rhys Bennett who sent a teasing ball to the back post – Vincenti made a decent run to try and make contact and squeezed his header between the out stretched Bywater and the near post.
Nine minutes later and it could have been two. Bywater had already kept out a powerful low free kick from the left wing before Michael Rose produced an effort which the keeper was unable to catch.
Henderson was coming in for the rebounded but blasted his shot over the crossbar.
Linganzi had an effort diverted behind just before the break, the resulting corner making its way to McDonald but Logan threw himself at the striker’s feet to block the effort.
Peter Taylor made a change at the break with Luke Norris coming on to replace the booked Bradley Dack, but had to make another six minutes after the re-start with Hause being replaced by Gavin Hoyte after picking up a knee injury.
On 55 minutes Dale perhaps should have doubled their advantage – Done delivered a fantastic cross to the near post and Henderson was sprinting in to fire a header that went narrowly wide of the target.
Moments later and Bywater did brilliantly to hold on to an effort from Vincenti. Rose had fired a brilliant cross towards the Dale number seven, and although he got a good connection on it, the effort was straight at the Gills stopper.
On 69 minutes a cross by Hessenthaler was cleared as far as Pritchard – he chose to hit it first time on the volley with the effort going narrowly wide of the post.
Gillingham inserted more pace into their attack with Jermaine McGlashan replacing Linganzi, and he had an immediate impact as he won a corner kick on the far side.
Rochdale half cleared the danger but McDonald found himself with a half chance on the turn, he got an effort away but it was well blocked.
However on 83 minutes the striker did find a way through. Norris and McGlashan both had shots blocked inside the area, the ball wriggled free and McDonald did well from a tight angle to guide a shot past Logan.
Dale nearly regained their lead on 86 minutes when Rose’s cross was headed over by Vincenti, before Tanser’s curling effort to the far post was well held by Bywater.
Rochdale: Logan, Bennett, Eastham, Vincenti, Dawson (Lund 86), Done (Andrew 79), Tanser, Allen, Rose, O’Connell, Henderson.
Unused subs: Hery, Rafferty, Lancashire, Muldoon, Musangu.
Gillingham: Bywater, Fish, Egan, Legge, Hause (Hoyte 51), Pritchard, Linganzi (McGlashan 73), Hessenthaler, Dickenson, Dack (Norris HT), McDonald.
Unused subs: Nelson, Hare, German, Kedwell.
Referee: Mr E Ilderton