Goals in either half from Bradley Dack and Deji Oshilaja help the Gills see off Rochdale at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium
Gillingham remain second in Sky Bet League One after goals from Bradley Dack and Deji Oshilaja helped them beat Rochdale 2-0 at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Dack opened the scoring after seven minutes with his 10th goal of the campaign before Oshilaja headed in late on as the Gills extended their unbeaten home league run this season to 10 games.
Manager Justin Edinburgh made two changes from Saturday’s team who lost at Coventry, as Aaron Morris and Rory Donnelly replaced Josh Wright and Cody McDonald.
And it didn’t take long for the hosts to go in front. The move started with good defensive work by Ryan Jackson, Emmanuel Osadebe found Dominic Samuel, and he played in Dack who coolly slotted home to end a brilliant, free-flowing move.
The Gills were the better team for the opening half, playing at times with real confidence, even if it heralded few goalscoring opportunities. Dale right back Rhys Bennett was lucky to escape without a card when he brought down Samuel as Gills broke from an away side’s corner, while goalkeeper Joel Castro Pereira looked nervy any time the Gills delivered the ball in the air into the box.
Stuart Nelson was alert to deny Andy Cannon from an acute angle on 35 minutes following Dale’s best move of the half, before the Gills goalkeeper also did well to palm Donal McDermott drilled free-kick away from goal four minutes from the break.
Oshilaja almost made it two for the Gills in stoppage time, but the on-loan defender couldn’t get enough onto John Egan’s cross.
McDermott dragged a low shot wide of Nelson’s post two minutes into the second half, and Tom Kennedy’s volley fizzed into the stand shortly after.
Rory Donnelly had the first Gills shot of the second half, but fired straight at Castro Pereira on 54 minutes.
With the game in its final 30 minutes, Nelson was equal to Calvin Andrew’s drilled shot from 20 yards and substitute Michael Rose’s free-kick ended up just wide of the post, as the visitors took a hold of the tie.
The introduction of Doug Loft with 20 minutes remaining saw the Gills switch from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 formation. However, Dale continued to press, and another substitute, James Hooper, forced Nelson into his best save of the night on 75 minutes having made space for himself in sight of goal.
Dack almost scored a sensational second seconds later with a 25-yard volley that was parried by Castro Pereira, and Samuel mis-hit the rebound from six yards after the offside flag stayed down.
But with 10 minutes remaining, Oshilaja made sure of the Gills victory with his third goal of the season. John Egan’s upward header from Bradley Garmston’s corner wasn’t cleared, and the defender got enough on the ball to force it across the line.
Coventry’s draw away at Bradford City means the Gills trail the Sky Blues by just one point going into Saturday’s round of fixtures.
The Gills travel to Shrewsbury Town, before returning to the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on December 12th to face Burton Albion.
Gillingham: N Nelson, Jackson, Egan, Oshilaja, Garmston, Osadebe (Dickenson 63), A Morris (Loft 70), Dack, Hessenthaler, Donnelly, Samuel
Unused subs: G Morris, Ehmer, Houghton, McGlashan, McDonald
Rochdale: Castro Pereira, Bennett, Lancashire, McNulty, Kennedy (Rose 65), Rafferty (Mendez-Laing 45), Cannon, Camps, McDermott (Hooper 54), Andrew, Henderson
Unused subs: Lillis, Eastham, Vincenti, Bunney
Attendance: 5, 088
Referee: Mr S Attwell