Gillingham got their League 1 season off to a start with a hard earned 0-0 draw against Doncaster Rovers.

The Gills had to dig deep late in the second half as Donny did everything they could to force a winner, but the visitors held on to clinch a point having themselves hit the post in the first half through Connor Ogilvie.

Tomas Holy also impressed, making a number of fine saves to keep the Kent club in the game.

Ady Pennock was dealt a late blow with the news Bradley Garmston had torn a calf muscle prior to traveling, therefore Ogilvie had the duty of playing at left wing-back.

Captain Lee Martin lined up in midfield alongside Billy Bingham and Mark Byrne with Josh Parker partnering Tom Eaves in attack.

Former Gills striker John Marquis was named in the starting XI for Doncaster with club veteran James Coppinger in an attacking midfield position.

The hosts nearly opened the scoring inside three minutes; a wonderful through pass cut open the Gills defence and Liam Mandeville did well to lift the ball over the advancing Holy, but Luke O’Neill got back to clear the ball off the line.

The hosts enjoyed more of the possession in the first 20 minutes without creating anything meaningful. A couple of half chances were thwarted by the visiting defence with Martin and Scott Wagstaff looking the most likely to create something on the counter.

On 27 minutes Holy was on hand to deny Doncaster once more; Matty Blair had continued his run from right-back and was played through inside the box. His first touch was heavy but still looked favourite to score but the keeper stood tall and blocked his shot.

Donny may have looked comfortable but within the blink of an eye nearly found themselves a goal down. Firstly Ogilvie struck the post following an excellent Martin cross. The skipper then caused chaos with two separate corner-kicks; the first was brilliantly saved by Lawlor following Zakuani’s header with the centre-back on hand moments later only to see another effort blocked yards from the line with O’Neill unable to turn it home.

H/T: 0-0

Gills `tall` goalkeeper was needed almost immediately following the re-start. A corner from the left was aimed towards Andy Butler, his header was a powerful one but thankfully for Holy it was right in front of him and he just had to spread himself sufficiently to make the save.

On 54 minutes Mandeville beautifully controlled a long ball forward; Ehmer did just enough to force the striker back a yard and his early shot cleared the large frame of Holy and indeed the frame of the goal.

Although the game was an entertaining one both sides couldn’t quite produce a final pass which would create opportunities, and on 66 minutes Conor Wilkinson came on to replace Tom Eaves with Josh Wright also being introduced at the expense of Billy Bingham.

Marquis nearly broke the deadlock with just 15 minutes to play. With Wagstaff struggling Gills were temporarily down to 10 players and the striker made the most of the vacant space, tried to place an effort in the corner but missed the target by a yard. He was then thwarted by Holy moments later when a free-kick made its way to the striker but again he was denied.

The hosts were, by now, dominating possession and Ben Whiteman struck the bar with an ambitious effort from 25 yards. Holy was off his line but was able to turn around and see the ball bounce over his goal and into the crowd.

With minutes to go a Gills free-kick was pounced upon and all of a sudden it was three against one with Marquis best placed to shoot. From a difficult angle he attempted to chip Holy but the keeper anticipated such an effort and collected with ease.

F/T: 0-0

Doncaster: Lawlor, Blair (Kongolo 70), Wright, Butler, Andrew, Mason, Whiteman, Rowe, Coppinger, Marquis, Mandeville (May 90).

Unused subs: Marosi, Alcock, Garratt, Beestin, Longbottom.


Gills: Holy, O’Neill, Ehmer, Zakuani, Wagstaff (Nash 90), Ogilvie, Byrne, Bingham (Wright 73), Martin (c), Eaves (Wilkinson 66), Parker.

Unused subs: Hadler, O’Mara, Hessenthaler, Cundle.


Attendance: 7512 (568 Gillingham)

Referee: Mr D Whitestone