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Blackburn Rovers 1 Gillingham 0 – League 1 match report

By Luke Cawdell

Former Gills loan striker Dominic Samuel bagged Blackburn the points from Saturday’s League 1 clash.

He struck in the first half to leave the Gills with nothing to show from their trip to Ewood Park.

Derrick Williams hit the woodwork for the hosts late on but only a point-blank save from Rovers keeper David Raya denied Elliott List from a late equaliser.

Gillingham interim manager Peter Taylor Picture Barry Goodwin

Gillingham interim manager Peter Taylor Picture: Barry Goodwin

The Gills pressed late on but couldn’t find the goal they needed to pull off a surprise result.

 


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Interim boss Peter Taylor made three changes to his starting line-up, including fit-again Conor Wilkinson up front. Josh Parker won a recall while Lee Martin was back from suspension. The back four included midfielder Mark Byrne at right-back.

The bench named on Saturday was devoid of outfield experience, boasting just three Football League starts between them, with an average age of just 19.

Blackburn selected ex-Gills favourite Bradley Dack in their line-up.

As expected, Rovers had the most of the possession early on, but the Gills could have taken an 18th-minute lead had the ball fallen kinder for Wilkinson. He put the ball wide after Parker had laid Martin’s cross off into his path.

Gills keeper Tomas Holy got behind a couple of routine Blackburn chances but was beaten just after the half hour mark as the visitors failed to deal with Dack’s corner, which had been headed into the danger area by Charlie Mulgrew.

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Ben Nugent came close to converting from a Connor Ogilvie free-kick while Wilkinson put another set-piece well over the bar with the last kick of the half.

While the Gills had those half chances, the hosts certainly deserved their lead at the break. Holy held onto an early free-kick from Mulgrew as Blackburn looked to extend their lead in the second half and Samuel put another chance wide.

Martin’s surging run created the chance for Wilkinson to level on the hour but the Gills striker put the shot wide. Parker was unlucky moments later when Raya’s clearance hit the forward but he couldn’t control the ball and take advantage.

At the other end Harry Chapman – on for Dack – went in the book for a dive after a challenge from debutant Finn O’Mara inside the box. Chapman certainly gave the Gills youngster plenty to think about on his first Football League outing.

Lee Martin causes panic in the Rovers defence Picture Barry Goodwin

Lee Martin causes panic in the Rovers defence Picture: Barry Goodwin

List and Greg Cundle were both introduced in the latter stages as Taylor turned to youth in a bid to salvage something from the match.

Rovers looked to finish the Gills off late on and Williams cracked an effort against the post. A flying block from Gabriel Zakuani denied them on the follow-up.

With just a goal in it, Gills always had a chance, and that moment looked to have come with seven minutes left. Ben Nugent nodded a cross into the path of List but the resulting ricochet towards goal was saved by Raya. O'Mara put the loose ball into the side netting.

The late pressure from the Gills continued and Zakuani had a chance from a cross that he couldn’t direct towards goal.

Raya made another great save, denying Martin from close-range, but the Gills were offside anyway.

Blackburn: Raya, Caddis, Williams, Downing, Mulgrew, Whittingham, Smallwood, Bennett, Antonsson (Gladwin 87mins), Dack (Chapman 60mins), Samuel (Graham 74mins). Subs: Leutwiler, Hart, Ward, Evans.

Gillingham: Holy, Byrne (O’Mara 60mins), Ogilvie, Zakuani, Nugent, Ehmer, Hessenthaler, Clare (List 70mins), Parker, Martin, Wilkinson (Cundle 75mins). Subs: Arnold, Oldaker, Simpson, Starkey.

Attendance: 10,844 (400 Gills)

Conor Wilkinson goes for goal Picture Barry Goodwin

Conor Wilkinson goes for goal Picture: Barry Goodwin

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