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Bristol Rovers 0 Gillingham 2: Vadaine Oliver scored twice in Gills' win at the Memorial Stadium

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Striker Vadaine Oliver struck twice as Gillingham returned to league action with a win on Wednesday night.

Oliver opened the scoring with a well-taken goal in the first half and a brave header doubled the lead with 15 minutes left

Vadaine Oliver scored twice for the Gills on Wednesday night. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Vadaine Oliver scored twice for the Gills on Wednesday night. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Gillingham bounced back from their weekend FA Cup exit and did it without their star man Jordan Graham, who was missing with a hamstring injury. It’s now four games unbeaten for the Gills in League 1.

Boss Steve Evans made three changes with Tom O’Connor returning from a hamstring problem of his own while John Akinde got a first league start in five and Scott Robertson was also back in the XI.

The Gills were up against some familiar faces including former captain Max Ehmer and striker Brandon Hanlan, the pair switching from Priestfield to the Memorial Stadium in the summer. Former Gills youngster Josh Hare also featured for the hosts.

Hanlan was kept quiet in the early stages and although those around him had chances they failed to find the target with Sam Nicholson putting four efforts wide, the best coming after getting free of O’Connor in the box.

Gillingham were more than a match, however, with early appeals for a penalty, boss Evans claiming there was a hand on John Akinde’s pull back from O’Connor’s cross.

Kyle Dempsey and Dominic Samuel both had efforts held by home keeper Anssi Jaakkola before the Gills took a 27th-minute lead through Oliver. The Gills striker finished well after getting the better of Ehmer from a Jack Tucker ball forward.

Akinde went close to doubling the lead and Robbie McKenzie fired wide for the Gills as they continued to be a threat. They went into the break a goal infront.

Rovers changed shape for the second half, opting instead for wing-backs, with another centre-half on to help deal with the physical threat of Akinde and Oliver.

Erhun Oztumer attempted to bend a shot past Bonham after stealing a yard from McKenzie but the former Rovers keeper made a flying save to deny the playmaker.

Hanlan tried to make something happen in the box with his quick feet but Ogilvie, well aware of what the tricky striker can do, was there to snuff out the danger.

Nicholson had a shot deflected wide, Hanlan wasn’t far off with a header and Bonham held onto a low shot from Oztumer as Rovers looked more of a threat.

At the other end, the Gills were denied a second only by a great save from Jaakkola, rushing out to save with his feet as Oliver looked to finish at the back stick.

But Oliver was in the same place soon after to convert, nodding in bravely for his sixth goal of the season from a Dempsey cross to double the advantage. He collided with a post while scoring but was able to play on again after treatment.

Gillingham continued to keep Hanlan quiet until full-time and clinched a well-earned three points.

Bristol Rovers: Jaakkola, Hare (Koiki 64mins), Leahy (Walker 64mins), Grant, Baldwin, Ehmer, Upson (Westbrooke 75mins), Oztumer, Nicholson, McCormick (Kilgour 46mins), Hanlan. Subs not used: Van Stappershoef, Hargreaves, Harries.

Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, O’Connor, Tucker, Ogilvie, McKenzie, Dempsey, Robertson (Drysdale 90mins), Samuel, Akinde (MacDonald 86mins), Oliver (Coyle 90mins). Subs not used: Walsh, Willock, Eccles, Woods.

Referee: Scott Oldham

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