Doncaster capitalise on defensive mistakes to win at Priestfield.
A late Callum Reilly goal was not enough as the Gills were humbled by high-flying Doncaster in the club's final game of 2018.
The visitors raced into a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from John Marquis, Mallik Wilks and Danny Andrew with the final two goals coming in a five minute spell in the second half. Reilly struck a late consolation with keeper Ian Lawlor making a great save from Connor Ogilvie moments later.
The Gills came into the game looking to end the year with back-to-back home wins. Manager Steve Lovell named an unchanged starting eleven following the 2-0 victory over Portsmouth on Boxing Day. On the bench saw the return of top goal scorer Tom Eaves who had missed the previous two games with a thigh injury. Former Gills forward and Doncaster top scorer John Marquis was named in Donny's starting eleven.
In a cagey opening five minutes it was the away side that mustered up the first chance of note. Marquis flicked the ball into the path of Alfie May on the right hand side. He drove towards the penalty area and shot, but his effort was high and wide of the goal.
In the eleventh minute there was an injury scare for the Gills as Wilks accidentally caught the head of Brandon Hanlan with his studs. After a lengthy delay he was able to continue as the medical team strapped up the wound.
Doncaster looked to find an opening through the Gills defence and in the 20th minute they almost found that. A low cross along the edge of the six yard box evaded everybody until it fell to the feet of May, but his touch was poor and the chance broke down.
In the 25th minute the home side were forced into a change as Dean Parrett went down with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. He was replaced by Billy Bingham.
Just short of the half hour mark the away side took the lead. After the ball took a few deflections in the penalty area, the ball fell to the feet of Marquis whose shot deflected off Alex Lacey and went into the bottom corner, giving Holy little chance.
The goal sparked life into Donny as they went in search of a second and they immediately won a corner. Following some head tennis in the penalty area the Gills won a free-kick to give them some relief. However, the Doncaster pressure continued as Wilks’ shot from distance was blocked and ran for a throw.
Having weathered the storm the Gills won a corner as Barry Fuller’s cross intended for Hanlan was cleared. Callum Reilly’s delivery went to the back post and was met by the head of Gabriel Zakuani, but he could only head wide.
Two minutes before the interval Gills had their first shot on target. Bingham’s curled pass forward was in the path of Elliott List who used his pace to get the best of Tom Anderson. As he entered the box he shot with his left foot, however, it was an easy save for Ian Lawlor.
On the stroke of half-time Doncaster were a Lacey block away from making it two. Tommy Rowe was in acres of space inside the penalty area and as he shot he was excellently closed down by Lacey. Wilks provided the follow up but he blazed over.
Gillingham looked to close the half strongly as Hanlan smartly turned beyond Danny Andrew and drilled a cross into the box. It was cleared out for a corner which Reilly took. At the second time of asking Donny dealt with it, but the Gills were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area.
Reilly once again took it and his cross was comfortably dealt with by the visitors.
At half-time the home side used their second substitution as Eaves made his return from injury, replacing Hanlan.
It was the visitors that created the opening chance of the second half. Marquis latched onto a loose ball and as he got to the edge of the area he shot with his left foot. It looked like it was going in for a second but hit the side netting.
In the 50th minute there were shouts from the Rainham End for a handball. A fantastic pass from Mark Byrne found List in acres of space. As he cut into the box he unleashed a curling effort which was blocked by a Doncaster defender, however, any claims of a handball were immediately waved away by the referee.
Doncaster made it two on 54 minutes through forward Mallik Wilks. After a defensive mix up from Connor Ogilvie and Tomas Holy on the edge of the area; Wilks took advantage of it to take the ball beyond Holy and prod into an empty net.
In the 59th minute the Gills lost another player to injury as Barry Fuller came off for Luke O’Neill, meaning the home side had used all three substitutions before the hour.
The visitors put the game out of sight shortly after. Having dealt with a Herbie Kane corner the ball fell to the feet of Danny Andrew. He struck from distance on the half volley and the ball bounced just in front of the goal line as it went under the body of Holy.
Andrew tried his luck again, this time from a free-kick. Holy managed to get his body behind it and prevent it from becoming four.
Despite the score line the Gills were still trying to get themselves back in the contest. A pass down the line from Bingham set Eaves down the left hand side, he cut inside and passed to Josh Parker. Parker created some space on the edge of the area and unleashed a strong curling effort which whistled just beyond the far post.
As the game headed into its final stages, Marquis got in behind the Gills defence but as he shot his effort was blocked by the sliding Zakuani.
As the Gills continued to press for a consolation goal it was List that looked the most likely to create anything. His trickery down the left hand side was causing Matty Blair many problems.
In the 87th minute the home side scored a consolation goal. List got the better of Blair once again and his cross was met by Eaves at the back post. Eaves’ header crashed off the bar and fell into the path of Callum Reilly whose effort towards goal was deflected into the back of the net.
Deep into stoppage time the Gills came close to scoring a second. The ball was drilled towards the front post and was met by Connor Ogilvie whose shot towards the goal was parried wide by Lawlor.
Gillingham: Holy; Fuller (O’Neill 59’), Lacey, Zakuani, Ogilvie; Byrne, Parrett (Bingham 25’), Reilly; List, Parker, Hanlan (Eaves 46’)
Unused subs: Hadler (GK), Garmston, Mbo, Rees
Doncaster Rovers: Lawlor; Blair, T. Anderson, Butler, Andrew; Whiteman, Kane, Rowe (J. Anderson 85’), May (Boocock 90’); Marquis, Wilks (Crawford 77’)
Unused subs: Marosi (GK), Blaney, Lund, Gibbons