Doncaster edge a tight game at the Eco-Power Stadium.
Harrison Biggins scored the only goal of a very tight game as Doncaster beat Gillingham 1-0 at the Eco-Power Stadium on Saturday.
Neil Harris made three changes following the midweek defeat to Leyton Orient. Ryan Law, Alex MacDonald and Scott Kashket came into the starting XI. Dom Jefferies, Will Wright and Hakeeb Adelakun dropped to the bench, while Olly Lee returned to the matchday squad for the first time since the end of August.
It took until the 15th minute for either side to create an opportunity as Glenn Morris was forced into action. A corner was curled deep towards the back post as Kyle Knoyle managed to keep it alive as he headed it back into the box. Tom Anderson then headed it goalward, which forced Morris to come out and punch it away from danger with a Doncaster man standing in front of him.
Gills were applying a high press as they tried to counteract the hosts playing out from the back. In the 18th minute, Doncaster managed to get beyond the press and burst forward on the break. The final ball was played towards James Maxwell, who brought the ball into the area before shooting. Fortunately, he fired high and wide at Morris’ near post.
Moments later, MacDonald had Gillingham's first opportunity of the game. Cheye Alexander curled a cross into the penalty area, where MacDonald rose the highest. He managed to get his header on target, but it was straight at Jonathan Mitchell.
The hosts had a penalty appeal waved away just short of the half-hour mark after Maxwell’s half-volley took a couple of deflections inside the penalty area. Players and fans both appealed, but the referee ignored the shouts for a handball.
Law came close on the stroke of half-time. Kashket won possession just outside the Doncaster penalty area and was brought down. The referee did not give a free-kick as Stuart O’Keefe picked up the loose ball before playing out wide towards Law. The left back had acres of space as he took a touch to ready himself before aiming his shot towards the far corner. The low-driven effort had plenty of power but fizzed just wide of the post.
HALF-TIME: Doncaster Rovers 0-0 Gillingham
Biggins came inches away from giving Doncaster the lead in the 51st minute. The hosts had a free-kick in a central area around 30 yards from goal. Biggins stepped up and floated his effort towards the top corner. Morris was at full stretch to keep the ball out as it struck the crossbar before going out for a goal kick.
Max Ehmer forced Mitchell into a great save to keep the scores level. MacDonald floated a free-kick into the penalty area, which Elkan Baggott headed back across the box. Ehmer managed to flick a header goalward as it looped towards the target. It looked as if it could make its way into the back of the net, but Mitchell got across to push it behind for a corner.
On the hour, Biggins gave Doncaster the lead. A cross from the right found Biggins in space as he headed the ball across the goal and into the bottom corner beyond Morris.
Hakeeb Adelakun, who replaced Green in the 51st minute, forced Mitchell into a save soon after. Gills managed to make their way towards the Doncaster penalty area as Adelakun and Alexander linked up down the right. Adelakun decided to try his luck from a tight angle as he directed his shot towards Mitchell’s near post. However, it proved a routine save for the goalkeeper as he palmed it behind for a corner.
Max Woltman forced Morris into a save shortly after coming on. The ball sat nicely for the midfielder to strike it first time. It was a low effort that Morris was unable to keep hold of, but Gills were first to the rebound as they cleared away.
FULL-TIME: Doncaster Rovers 1-0 Gillingham
Doncaster Rovers: Mitchell, Knoyle, Maxwell, Anderson, Williams, Molyneux (Woltman 78’), Miller, Biggins, Long (Faulkner 71’), Hurst (Taylor 78’), Close
Unused Substitutes: Bottomley, Barlow, Seaman, Agard
Gillingham: Morris, Alexander (Wright 77’), Ehmer, Baggott, Law (Lee 77’), Green (Adelakun 51’), O’Keefe, McKenzie, MacDonald (Jefferies 77’), Walker, Kashket (Mandron 66’)
Unused Substitutes: Turner, Gbode
Referee: Chris Pollard
Attendance: 5800 (336 Gills Supporters)