Rochdale take maximum points as Gills reduced to ten men.

Ten man Gillingham slipped to a 3-0 defeat at Rochdale at Spotland on Saturday afternoon.

Rochdale dominated the first half although the returning Billy Bingham could have given Gills the advantage when he put his left footed effort over the bar.

Ian Henderson got the opener when he tapped home from close range and Joseph Rafferty took advantage of a dropped catch from Tomas Holy to double the lead. Tom Eaves was sent off before the break for an alleged deliberate elbow on Rafferty.

The visitors were better after the break but were unable to reduce the deficit as Rochdale secured maximum points with Matt Done adding a third in stoppage time having also missed a penalty.

Ady Pennock made one change to the side that defeated Charlton Athletic 1-0 at MEMS Priestfield Stadium last weekend with Bingham returning in place of Scott Wagstaff.

Max Ehmer continued in midfield with Sean Clare supporting the front two of Conor Wilkinson and Tom Eaves.

Lee Martin was absent due to suspension.

Rochdale had a familiar name in their squad with former Gills loanee Donervon Daniels among the substitutes.

An early corner for the hosts was headed wide by Joseph Bunney before a shot from Ehmer was deflection into the arms of keeper Joshua Lillis.

On ten minutes Max Ehmer brought down Oliver Rathbone and following a good spell of play, a cross from the right found the Rochdale man who had an effort blocked before Brad Inman blazed over from a few yards.

Moments later and Holy was required to make his first save of the afternoon when Ian Henderson met a cross from the left, the Captain looked favourite to score but the keeper made himself big and blocked.

On 18 minutes Gillingham created the best opening of the game so far when Wilkinson did well to spot the run of Bingham through the middle. He took a couple of touches before sending his left footed effort over the top.

The visitors were made to pay for their missed chance as Rochdale got the opener seven minutes later. Steven Davies had the time and space to drive forward, he eventually got a shot away which Holy could only palm into the path of Henderson who tapped it home.

And within a minute Rochdale had got a second; a deep free-kick was aimed towards the penalty spot, Holy called for it but failed to keep it and Rafferty had the very simple task of finding the net from a couple of yards out.

Gills struggled to get back into the game and their task in doing so was made tougher when Tom Eaves was sent off just before the interval for an elbow on Rafferty which the referee deemed to be deliberate.

The hosts went in search of a third before the whistle but Zakuani and Holy ensured there was only a two goal deficit.

H/T: 2-0

A double sub was made at the break with Liam Nash and Josh Parker coming on for the injured Wilkinson and Max Ehmer respectively.

Despite their numerical advantage Rochdale were not quite as dominant in the opening stages of the second half but remained very much in control.

An effort from Henderson narrowly missed the target with Holy at full stretch to his left side before Bingham’s left footed free-kick from 25 yards was well caught by Lillis.

Rochdale appeared comfortable to ease off as Gillingham struggled to create chances, albeit were far more competitive in the second half.

Bingham tried again from a set play, this time drilling an effort well wide of the left hand post with 83 minutes on the clock.

With the seconds ticking away Rochdale had an opportunity to extend their lead when Henderson was brought down inside the box, with the referee not hesitating in awarding a spot kick. The striker himself took it but Holy was up to the task and palmed it away with Henderson missing the target with a follow up header.

However a third was added in stoppage time when sub Matt Done latched on to a through ball and clinically found the net, sending Holy the wrong way.

F/T: 3-0

Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty (Ntlhe 71), McNulty, McGahey, Camps, Williams, Rathbone, Inman (Done 86), Davies (Andrew 59), Bunney, Henderson (c).

Unused subs: J Williams, Slew, Moore, Daniels.

Gills: Holy, O’Neill, Zakuani, Nugent, Lacey, Ehmer (Parker 45), Bingham, Byrne, Clare, Eaves, Wilkinson (Nash 45).

Unused subs: Arnold, Ogilvie, Oldaker, Hessenthaler, Starkey.

Referee: Mr E Ilderton

Attendance: 2793 (159 Gills)