Gills dominate at Rochdale to win for the first time at Spotland since 2009.
John Akinde was the star of the show as he scored a brace in Gills 4-1 win against Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena on Saturday.
The first goal came following a brilliant touch and turn from Akinde, which allowed him to run into space. As he got inside the penalty area, he shot across goal with his left foot, but it was saved by Jay Lynch.
However, the rebound went as far as Robbie McKenzie who blasted home from the edge of the six-yard box.
Akinde grabbed the second in the 21st minute as he was first to a Connor Ogilvie flick-on. He did well to bring the ball under control before blasting his half volley into the roof of the net from close range.
The Gills got a third right before half-time through Ogilvie. Scott Robertson received a short pass from Kyle Dempsey following a free-kick. He found some space in the centre of the pitch before firing a shot towards goal.
It deflected off the Gills defender, and it had enough speed and power to go into the bottom corner and beat Lynch.
Akinde got his second and Gillingham’s fourth right after half-time.
He was fouled by Ethan Brierley inside the box, and he took the penalty himself. Akinde fired it down the middle with the Rochdale goalkeeper going to his left.
Eoghan O’Connell scored a late consolation goal with a great long-range effort. He was first to meet an Akinde headed clearance and drilled his shot into the bottom corner, giving Jack Bonham no chance.
Steve Evans made four changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Accrington Stanley in midweek. Tom O’Connor, Alex MacDonald, Scott Robertson and John Akinde all came into the starting eleven in place of Declan Drysdale, Jacob Mellis, Dominic Samuel and Vadaine Oliver.
Trae Coyle was fit enough to make the bench and Christian Maghoma also made the matchday squad having missed the last few games with an illness.
Stephen Humphrys had the first chance of the game after just 90 seconds. He latched onto a loose ball just inside the Gills half and drove towards the edge of the penalty area unchallenged before firing wide.
Scott Robertson had Gillingham’s first shot on goal in the seventh minute. After a Ryan Jackson long throw was headed away, it bounced into the path of Robertson. However, his shot was deflected a couple of times and was an easy claim for Jay Lynch.
Robbie McKenzie registered his first goal for the Gills just two minutes later. John Akinde did brilliantly to bring the ball down and turn into space on the left hand side. As he got into the penalty area, he shot across goal with a left-footed effort.
It forced Lynch to parry the ball, and it bounced into the path of McKenzie, and from the edge of the six-yard box, he blasted the ball into an empty net.
McKenzie came close to grabbing his second just a few minutes later.
Josh Eccles played a fantastic through ball to the Gills midfielder, but his shot towards goal was brilliantly saved by Lynch.
In the 21st minute, Akinde capped off his fantastic start to the game with a goal, and Gills second of the afternoon.
A Jackson long throw was flicked on at the front post by Connor Ogilvie. It fell into the path of the Gills striker, and he did well to get the ball under control before firing a half volley into the roof of the net from close range.
Jack Bonham was forced into action in the 34th minute. Rochdale counter attacked and got the ball down the left-hand side of the Gillingham penalty area. Alex Newby ran into space before drilling a left-footed shot towards the front post, but Bonham saved with his legs, and the ball went out for a corner.
On the stroke of half-time Gills had a third. Robertson received a short pass from Kyle Dempsey from a free kick on the right-hand side of the penalty area. He ran into the centre before finding some space and shooting towards goal, and it was deflected into the bottom corner. However, it appeared to last come off Ogilvie who has since been credited the goal.
HALF-TIME: Rochdale 0-3 Gillingham
Right after half-time Akinde grabbed his second, and Gillingham’s fourth, from the penalty spot.
He was tripped just inside the area by the debutant Ethan Brierley and blasted his penalty down the middle as Lynch went to his left.
Following the goal, the game had a quiet 20-minute spell with neither side creating a chance. Gills were still applying pressure and not allowing Rochdale to play their game as they kept up their intensity.
Humphrys forced Bonham into a save in the 67th minute. However, it was a comfortable save as his free-kick dipped towards goal and the Gills keeper got a strong hand to push it over.
Robertson came close in the 83rd minute, and after he worked some space about 20 yards from goal, he pulled the trigger for a shot. Lynch did brilliantly to meet it and then parry away from danger.
Alex MacDonald almost capped off a brilliant display following a fantastic passing move from Gills.
The visitors did brilliantly to play the ball out from the back, and Eccles played Dempsey in through the middle of the pitch.
The Gills skipper could not get a shot off so played it to MacDonald on the left, but his effort curled inches wide of the far post.
Eoghan O’Connell scored a brilliant long distanced effort to grab the hosts a consolation in stoppage time as he met Akinde’s headed clearance with a first time shot.
FULL-TIME: Rochdale 1-4 Gillingham
Rochdale: Lynch, Keohane, O’Connell, McNulty, Roberts, Newby (Tavares 74’), Morley, Brierley (Bola 63’), Baah (Done 63’), Humphrys, Dooley
Unused Subs: Chalton, Bradley, Hopper, Dunne
Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, Ogilvie, Tucker, O'Connor, McKenzie, MacDonald, Eccles (Willock 90’), Robertson (Drysdale 89’), Dempsey, Akinde
Unused Subs: Walsh, Maghoma, Woods, Coyle, Oliver