Gills put in strong collective performance to earn victory in Bristol.
A goal in either half from Vadaine Oliver was enough to secure all three points at the Memorial Stadium, as Gillingham defeated Bristol Rovers 2-0 following a fantastic team performance.
Oliver got his first in the 27th minute as he latched onto a long ball forward from Jack Tucker. He managed to outmuscle Max Ehmer and then looped the ball over Anssi Jaakkola and into the back of the net.
He grabbed his second fifteen minutes from time to round off a fantastic counter-attack.
It came following a Bristol Rovers free-kick, and after some great hold up play from Dominic Samuel, Ryan Jackson played a pass down the line for Kyle Dempsey.
The Gills captain curled a lovely ball towards the back post, and it was met by a diving header from Oliver who headed into an empty net.
Steve Evans made three changes from the side that lost to Exeter City in the FA Cup. John Akinde, Scott Robertson and Tom O’Connor all came into the starting eleven in place of Christian Maghoma, Jordan Graham and Alex MacDonald.
Former Gills players Max Ehmer, Josh Hare and Brandon Hanlan were both named in the Bristol Rovers team.
Vadaine Oliver had the first chance of the game in the seventh minute.
A long ball forward was flicked down to the striker who had some space inside the penalty area, but as he went to shoot, he received pressure, and he appeared to slice it wide of the goal.
Sam Nicholson came close just after the ten minute mark following some good work from Brandon Hanlan, but his effort went wide of Jack Bonham’s goal.
Kyle Dempsey had the first shot on target, but his curling shot from distance was a comfortable save for Anssi Jaakkola.
Nicholson had another good chance in the 18th minute after he latched onto a ball over the top from Erhun Oztumer. The Bristol Rovers man did well to get past Tom O’Connor, but he could only fire his shot over the crossbar.
Dominic Samuel tested Jaakkola with a brilliant volley in the 25th minute. Connor Ogilvie’s throw-in got cleared as far as Samuel on the edge of the penalty area, and his outside of the foot volley caused issues for the Bristol Rovers goalkeeper. It took him two attempts to finally get his hands on the ball as he initially parried it away.
In the 27th minute, Oliver gave Gillingham the lead.
Jack Tucker played a great ball over the top of the Rovers defence, and Oliver got the better of Max Ehmer to get in on goal. As he reached the ball, he looped it over Jaakkola and into the back of the net.
Robbie McKenzie was the next man to come close as his curling shot from the edge of the penalty area went just wide of the far post.
Kyle Dempsey created a moment of panic for the Bristol Rovers defence after his curling cross towards the back post evaded everybody and went just wide of the back post.
HALF-TIME: Bristol Rovers 0-1 Gillingham
Oztumer forced Bonham into action early in the second half. The creative midfielder had space outside the penalty area and decided to try his luck. His curling shot was palmed out for a corner by the Gills goalkeeper, and the resulting set-piece came to nothing.
Oliver had a great chance to grab his and Gillingham’s second shortly after. Akinde’s cross was not cleared, after a mix-up in the Rovers defence. It fell to Oliver, and his shot from close range was saved by the onrushing Jaakkola.
Ogilvie made a huge goal-saving challenge in the 71st minute. Bristol Rovers got in behind the Gills defence and played a ball across goal, and the Gills defender got in ahead of Hanlan to clear away on the edge of the six-yard box before winning a foul.
In the 74th minute, Oliver did double Gillingham’s lead, and had his brace.
The Gills were able to counter-attack from a Bristol Rovers free-kick after some brilliant hold up play from Samuel.
The ball got played out to Ryan Jackson who played a great ball down the line to Dempsey. He curled a cross towards the back post, and it was met by a diving header from Oliver. His effort was a strong one and went into the empty net.
Oliver did go crashing knee first into the post after scoring, and following some concern, he was able to continue.
Rovers threw men forward late on, but the Gills defence stood firm to secure a well deserved clean sheet.
FULL-TIME: Bristol Rovers 0-2 Gillingham
Bristol Rovers: Jaakkola, Hare (Walker 64’), Baldwin, Ehmer, Leahy (Koiki 64’), Upson (Westbrooke 75’), Grant, McCormick (Kilgour 46’), Oztumer, Nicholson, Hanlan
Unused substitutes: Van Stappershoef, Harries, Westbrooke, Hargreaves
Gillingham: Bonham; Jackson, Tucker, Ogilive, O’Connor; McKenzie, Dempsey (Drysdale 90’), Robertson; Oliver (Coyle 90’), Samuel, Akinde (MacDonald 86’)
Unused substitutes: Walsh, Willock, Woods, Eccles