Big John Akinde stars as Gills win at home.
John Akinde’s second-half brace secured all three points for Gills as they defeated Bristol Rovers 2-0 at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Akinde opened the scoring in the 67th minute as he beat the offside trap following a through ball from Tom O’Connor. He went through on goal and curled it round an oncoming Joe Day to put the Gills ahead.
The striker was at the heart of the action moments later, as he won a penalty. He did well to get past the defender before being brought down inside the box.
However, Day got his revenge by saving the spot-kick which was placed down the middle.
Akinde grabbed his second in stoppage time to clinch the win for Gills.
Kyle Dempsey’s low cross was drilled towards the back post and met by the big man. He managed to divert an effort at goal whilst stretching, and it went underneath Day whose touch wasn't enough to keep it out.
However, the result was overshadowed by the injury of Callum Slattery, who was stretchered off on the stroke of half-time.
Steve Evans made two changes from the side that lost to Peterborough in midweek as Jordan Graham and Alex MacDonald came into the starting 11. Vadaine Oliver and Tom O’Connor dropped to the bench.
Former Gills striker, Brandon Hanlan, was named in the visitor's starting line-up whilst Max Ehmer, although made the trip, was not fit enough to be involved in the matchday squad.
Hanlan almost had a great chance in the third minute to give Rovers an early lead. James Daly did well to get in behind the Gills defence and played it across the box. Hanlan tried to turn before shooting but could not get it under control, and Jack Bonham came in to smother the danger.
In the sixth minute, Gillingham nearly went in front. Jordan Graham’s free-kick was headed towards the far post, and Olly Lee managed to head it down. Robbie Cundy was first to it but saw his attempts to stab it home stopped by Joe Day, and Bristol Rovers cleared their lines.
Hanlan went close again in the 16th minute. A long ball over the top allowed him to get in behind. He got beyond Connor Ogilvie before shooting from a tight angle which proved to be a routine save for Bonham.
Luke McCormick rattled the crossbar moments later. Rovers had a free-kick, and his curling effort across goal hit the frame of the woodwork, with Bonham thankful to see the ball run safe.
Hanlan was at it again before the half hour mark; he was through on goal after getting in behind the Gills defence, but a magnificent goal-saving tackle by Jack Tucker stopped him in his tracks and soon after he struck the post when he cut inside and saw a right footed shot strike the woodwork.
Alex MacDonald tries his luck in the 37th minute from distance.
Graham played the ball to him in the centre of the pitch. MacDonald ran towards goal before unleashing a fierce left-footed effort that went just wide of the post.
Five minutes later George Williams came close for the visitors.
Rovers managed to switch the ball quickly and leave Gills a man short at the back post. Williams latched onto the loose ball, but could not find the target with his shot.
Just before half-time, Callum Slattery was stretchered off with what appeared to be an ankle injury overshadowing the first half action.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 0–0 Bristol Rovers
The Gills started the second half with a trio of substitutions. Tom O’Connor, Vadaine Oliver and Rob McKenzie all replaced Slattery, Lee and MacDonald.
In the 64th minute, Daly had the first shot of the second half. Gills were unable to clear a ball into the box, and Daly managed to turn his defender. He shot from a tight angle, but it was an easy save for Bonham who fell on top of the ball.
Oliver had a header from ten yards float over the crossbar moments later as Kyle Dempsey’s shot was deflected.
Akinde gave Gills the lead in the 67th minute.
He was played through on goal by O’Connor, and Akinde did brilliantly to beat the offside trap and hold off his marker. As he went towards the goal, Day came to close him down. However, Akinde did brilliantly keeping his composure and curled it into the bottom corner.
Five minutes later, Akinde was at the heart of the action again and won a penalty.
He did brilliantly to get past a back tracking defender, and as he went to shoot, he was brought down, and the referee awarded the spot kick.
Unfortunately, the striker could not grab his second goal as his penalty was down the middle and pushed away by Day.
Moments later, Gills were almost punished for that missed chance. McCormick’s free-kick was swung towards the six-yard box and met by the head of Jack Baldwin. However, his header bounced millimetres wide of the post.
Cundy had a good chance from close range following an O’Connor corner but headed over the bar.
In the 90th minute, Akinde grabbed his second and clinched all three points for Gills.
Dempsey did well to get out wide and drag a low ball across the goal. Akinde met it at the back post, and his stretching left-footed effort went just underneath Day.
Deep into stoppage time, Oliver almost scored a third.
A cross into the box was met by a fancy flick that was aimed at goal but went just over the bar.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 2-0 Bristol Rovers
Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, Tucker, Cundy, Ogilvie, Slattery (McKenzie 46’), MacDonald (O’Connor 46’), Lee (Oliver 46’), Dempsey, Graham (O’Keefe 90’), Akinde (Willock 90’)
Unused Substitutes: Bastien, Morton
Bristol Rovers: Day, Williams (Rodman 82’), Harries, Kilgour, Baldwin, Leahy (Tutonda 90’), Grant (Hargreaves 90’), McCormick, Daly (Nicholson 72’), Ayunga, Hanlan
Unused Substitutes: Van Stappershoef, Hare, Upson
Referee: James Oldham