Gills make it seven straight home wins in all competitions as Connor Ogilvie strikes in the last few minutes for the second time this month.
Connor Ogilvie scored the only goal of the game in the final few minutes as Steve Evans’ side beat Rochdale 1-0 at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Sunday.
Gills put the Rochdale goal under constant pressure during the second half and it was Ogilvie’s header into an empty net which was enough to secure all three points.
Steve Evans named an unchanged starting eleven to the side that drew at Ipswich on Boxing Day as the Gills looked to win their seventh game at home in all competitions.
Following a scrappy opening period of the game, it was the visitors that mustered the first chance.
The ball came out to Jimmy Keohane on the edge of the Gillingham penalty area, but he blazed his left footed shot wide and high of the goal.
Mikael Mandron had the Gills’ first chance of the game; he picked up the ball on the right side outside the penalty area, but he curled his effort wide.
Mandron had another chance in the 16th minute and came much closer.
A cross from Barry Fuller was brought down brilliantly by the striker, and following a couple of flicks he managed to turn and shoot at goal. Unfortunately, it was straight at Robert Sanchez.
Just after the half hour mark the hosts hit the post. Olly Lee’s corner was met by Mandron who flicked the ball towards goal, and it hit the outside of the post and bounced out for a goal kick, despite the claims for a corner.
Lee was next to have half a chance for the Gills, but saw his strong shot bravely blocked by a Rochdale defender.
HT: Gillingham 0-0 Rochdale
The Gills started the second half brightly and looked to find an opener as they had three corners in quick succession. Unfortunately it came to nothing as Sanchez claimed the third one.
Kwadwo Baah came ever so close to giving Dale the lead in the 50th minute. He picked up a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area and curled a shot destined for the bottom corner, however, Jack Bonham did brilliantly to get a fingertip to the ball and tip it wide of the post.
Callum Camps was the next man to test Bonham, but his shot was a lot more comfortable for him.
The midfielder picked the ball up around 25 yards out from goal but his shot was easily caught by the Gills goalkeeper.
Mandron had another chance to give the Gills the lead, but was once again denied.
Tom O’Connor won the ball on the edge of the penalty area and played it to Mandron. He turned into space just inside the penalty area, but his curling shot lacked power and went straight into the hands of Sanchez.
Alex Jakubiak, who replaced Mandron just short of the hour, came the closest to giving the Gills the lead.
He did brilliantly to bring down Lee’s cross before cutting in and shooting, his shot hit the inside of the post before bouncing away to safety.
The Gills continued their pressure as Lee came close to beating Sanchez; he beat the offside trap and turned with the ball towards goal, but his half volley was met by the onrushing goalkeeper.
The barrage of the Rochdale goal continued as Hanlan hit the woodwork this time.
He did brilliantly to get in behind the visitors defence before his left footed shot cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and was headed away for a corner.
With a little over ten minutes of time there was a massive penalty shout for the hosts.
Olly Lee looked set to shoot inside the penalty area but went down under the contact of a Rochdale defender. It brought loud appeals from the Rainham End and the Gills players, but the referee waived away those claims.
Soon after, Hanlan came ever so close again.
Jakubiak did brilliantly to beat two Rochdale players and play in Hanlan. He cut the ball back and drilled a shot towards the bottom corner. It took a deflection on its way towards goal and needed a solid hand from Sanchez to palm it away from danger.
With five minutes from time Connor Ogilvie gave the Gills the lead their pressure deserved.
Substitute Mark Marshall put a right footed cross into the box and a Rochdale defender flicked it towards the back post for Ogilvie to head into an empty net and give the Gills a deserved lead.
Deep into stoppage time there was a mass brawl between both sides after MJ Williams tried to tackle Jakubiak.
At the fourth attempt the referee blew for a foul which then led to a lot of shoving by the touchline. Once it had died down, the referee booked Williams twice for two separate bookable offences and he received his marching orders.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 1-0 Rochdale
Gillingham: Bonham (GK); Fuller, Tucker, Ehmer, Ogilvie; Jones, O’Keefe, O’Connor (Marshall 60’), Lee (Charles-Cook 90’); Hanlan, Mandron (Jakubiak 61’)
Unused subs: Walsh (GK), Hodson, Ndjoli, Pringle
Rochdale: Sanchez, O’Connell, Dooley, Williams, Camps, Keohane (Matheson 66mins), Rathbone, McShane (Gillman 46mins), Wilbraham (Andrew 70mins), Magloire, Baah. Subs not used: Lynch, Pyke, Ryan, Tavares.
Attendance: 4761 (115 Rochdale fans)