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DONCASTER 2-2 GILLINGHAM FC: MATCH REPORT

16 January 2016

Rory Donnelly's double not enough as the Gills draw 2-2 against Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium

Goals in either half from Rory Donnelly were not enough as Justin Edinburgh's 50th game in charge of the Gills ended with a 2-2 draw away at Doncaster Rovers.

Donnelly scored his third in as many games after nine minutes, executing a brilliant volley from Ryan Jackson's cross, before he kept his nerve to slot home a second shortly after the break.

Rovers substitute Cameron Stewart pulled a goal back for his side with their first shot on target after 75 minutes, before Andy Williams slotted home two minutes from time to earn his side an unlikely point. The Gills slip to third in Sky Bet League One, four points behind leaders Burton Albion.

For the fourth-consecutive game, Edinburgh named an unchanged starting line-up, although Brennan Dickenson replaced the recently-departed Ben Williamson on the bench in the only change from last Thursday's Wigan Athletic game.

The hosts started brightly, with striker Andy Williams twice finding space down the left wing in the opening three minutes, but both times his crosses proved unthreatening.

However, the Gills quickly gained a foothold in the game, and their increasing pressure was rewarded as they took a ninth-minute lead. Jackson's second attempt at a cross was brilliantly volleyed in at the back post by the unmarked Donnelly.

It proved an important goal, as Rovers struggled to find any rhythm to their play for the remainder of the half. Striker Curtis Main – only starting after Nathan Tyson injured himself in the warm-up – and midfielder Conor Grant both shot off target from distance shortly after Donnelly's opener, while his team-mates looked short of confidence on the ball. They failed to record a single shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.

An on-rushing Bradley Dack almost doubled the Gills' advantage on 31 minutes, but headed against the underside of the bar from Bradley Garmston's cross having originally started the incisive break from midfield.

H/T: 0-1

Having led without dominating the opening half, Edinburgh's team talk at half time worked a treat. In the opening 120 seconds of the second half, Max Ehmer headed off-target and, after Rovers failed to fully clear, John Egan shot at Thorsten Stuckmann. The next passage of play saw Dack play through Donnelly, who kept his composure to slot home for the Gills' second.

An increasingly-frustrated Rovers continued to shoot from distance: Grant almost hit the top of a noisy home end with his attempt on 57 minutes and fired well wide from a free-kick on 73, while Stewart's low drive shortly after the hour mark never looked like beating Stuart Nelson.

By the time of the latter two attempts, the Gills could have been out of sight. On the hour, Dack created space for himself to shoot from the edge of the box with his left foot, but Stuckmann did well to keep out his low drive.

Donnelly almost completed his hat-trick on 62 minutes, but could only head at the Rovers goalkeeper after jumping the highest to get on the end of Dack's free-kick.

The hosts did eventually get a shot on target – and they scored from it. After Williams earned a free-kick on the edge of the box, substitute Stewart curled his effort into the top corner with Nelson well beaten.

Dominic Samuel almost added a third for the Gills 12 minutes from time with a spectacular volley that travelled just over the bar but – buoyed by their goal – the game predictably ended with an intense period of Rovers pressure.

And they made it count, as the onrushing Williams shrugged off Max Ehmer to slot home the equaliser two minutes from time.

The nine minutes of stoppage time – largely down to an injury to Stewart – saw Jake Hessenthaler have a volley blocked by the Rovers defence, while Nelson did well to prevent Aaron Taylor-Sinclair from giving the hosts an unlikely victory from eight yards.

They arguably should have won the game in the 98th minute when the ball fortuitously fell to Williams 10 yards from goal, but the striker blazed over the bar.

The Gills return to action at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium to face in-form Peterborough United next Saturday (January 23), in a 3pm kick-off.

F/T: 2-2

Doncaster Rovers: Stuckman, Alcock, McCullough, Butler (Stewart 49, Lund 86), Taylor-Sinclair, Evina, Coppinger, Keegan, Grant, Williams, Main (Mandeville 50)
Unusued substitutes: Marosi, Mackenzie, Chaplow, Middleton

Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Egan, Ehmer, Garmston, Wright (McGlashan 72), A Morris, Hessenthaler (Loft 90), Dack, Donnelly, Samuel
Unused substitutes: G.Morris, Dickenson, Osadebe, List, Norris

Attendance: Not given because of a power cut before kick-off

Referee: Mr N Miller

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