Jordan Roberts bags his first goals for the Gills, but Rochdale take a share of the spoils in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Spotland.
Two goals from Jordan Roberts were not enough for Gillingham to take all three points against Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena, but the Gills still stretched their unbeaten run to nine games following a 2-2 draw.
Ian Henderson gave Rochdale the lead from the spot midway through the first half, before goals from Roberts either side of half time gave Gillingham the advantage.
Stephen Dooley fired in an equaliser with over 20 minutes still to play, and though both sides had opportunities to score a winner in the final stages, with both goalkeepers tested, the points were shared.
Gillingham manager Steve Evans made one change to the side that picked up a 1-1 draw at home to Oxford United last week. New signing John Akinde came in to make his debut for the Gills, with the injured Tommy O’Connor dropping out.
After a cagey opening 18 minutes, Connor Ogilvie had the game’s first shot, firing comfortably over the bar from just outside the area. Soon after Barry Fuller’s dangerous cross was touched on by Luke Matheson, just away from Jordan Roberts at the far post.
Moments later Akinde had the game’s first shot on target, bringing down Ogilvie’s throw before shooting straight at Jay Lynch.
At the other end, Rochdale had a penalty after Jack Bonham was beaten to a long ball by Rhys Norrington-Davies, and brought him down just inside the box. Henderson stepped up, and sent Bonham the wrong way from the spot to make it 1-0.
Just after the half hour mark, the Gills came close to levelling. After Roberts was fouled on the edge of the box, Olly Lee’s free-kick was deflected just wide. From the resulting corner, Roberts found room in the area to get on the end of Lee’s delivery, and place a bullet a header beyond the helpless Lynch, his first goal for the club. 1-1.
With the half coming to a close, Rochdale had another good chance when Norrington-Davies pulled it back for Tyler Smith on the edge of the area, only for him to drag his shot just wide of the post.
H/T: Rochdale 1-1 Gillingham
Smith had the first sighting of goal in the second half for the hosts, but his shot was wild, and cleared the crossbar by a distance. He had a much better chance ten minutes into the half, latching onto Norrington-Davies’ low ball in, before lifting his shot over the bar once again.
Just before the hour mark, the Gills had turned the game around. Ogilvie’s long throw was helped on by Akinde, and dropped to Roberts, who slammed in his second to make it 1-2.
Within ten minutes, Rochdale were level, as a long ball forward arrived at the feet of Stephen Dooley, who drilled a shot into the far corner beyond Bonham to make it 2-2.
They came forward again a few minutes later, and came close to another, as substitute Aaron Wilbraham’s chip was headed off the line by the alert Stuart O’Keefe. It was end to end stuff at this stage, with Roberts winning back possession deep in opposition territory, before hitting a shot just wide of the post.
With a little under 15 minutes remaining the Gills made their first change, with Mikael Mandron entering the field of play to replace John Akinde.
Rochdale had the next chance, as Dooley set up substitute Matthew Done on the edge of the box, who brought a fine save out of Bonham.
At the other end it was the Gills who came close, when Lee’s clearance came out as far as Ogilvie, who drilled his shot narrowly wide of the far post. That was Lee’s final impact, as he was soon replayed by Matty Willock.
Steve Evans soon made his final change, with Alex Jakubiak coming on to replace the goalscorer Roberts. In the opening minute of injury time, the Gills had an excellent chance to go back ahead as Ogilvie picked out Mandron, whose shot was charged down by Lynch.
At the other end, Done optimistically looked to beat Bonham from near the halfway line, and saw his shot sail just over the bar. Moments later, Henderson tried his luck from just outside the box, but struck his shot just wide.
F/T: Rochdale 2-2 Gillingham
Rochdale: Lynch, Matheson, O’Connell, McShane, Norrington-Davies, Dooley, Williams (Done 66), Keohane (Rathbone 55), Ryan, Smith (Wilbraham 66), Henderson
Unused subs: Lillis, McNulty, Morley, Tavares
Gillingham: Bonham, Fuller, Tucker, Ehmer, Ogilvie, Jones, O’Keefe, Lee (Willock 85), Hanlan, Roberts (Jakubiak 87), Akinde (Mandron 76)
Unused subs: Walsh, Hodson, Charles-Cook, Pringle
Referee: Mr P Marsden
Attendance: 3,084 (264 away)