Published: 16:40, 05 August 2017
Giant keeper Tomas Holy proved some of his doubters wrong with an inspired performance at Doncaster.
He made several point-blank saves to deny the home side from scoring.
Gillingham had their chances too, the best of these in the first half, but the game at the Keepmoat Stadium finished goalless.
Gillingham went into the match with news of another injury for left-back Bradley Garmston, this time out with a calf injury.
Conor Wilkinson (ankle) did make it back in time for a place on the bench but Alex Lacey (knee) will have to wait a little longer for his debut.
There was a surprise on the bench as Tom Hadler was picked as back-up for Ady Pennock’s first-choice keeper Holy. Transfer-listed Stuart Nelson was left at home. Last season’s player-of-the-year Josh Wright was also on the bench for Gills’ season opener.
Holy was kept busy in the opening half as the Gills took some time to get into the game. He was beaten early on as Liam Mandeville raced onto a throughball but Luke O’Neill was alert to hook the ball off the line.
Midway through the half James Coppinger picked out Matt Blair but Holy stuck out a leg to make the block and keep the scores level.
With just over half an hour gone the Gills had their first real chance and it fell to Connor Ogilvie at the far post, from a deep Lee Martin cross. Keeper Ian Lawlor got enough on the ball to deflect it out for a corner, with the aid of his upright.
From the resulting corner Lawlor then produced a spectacular save to deny Gabriel Zakuani. The Gills defender came close again moments later, from another corner, but his downward header was blocked.
Former Gills striker John Marquis tried a couple of speculative efforts from distance but it was Doncaster left-back Danny Andrew who went closer, with a low shot turned wide by Holy.
Holy made an even better block early in the second half, sticking out a foot to deny Andy Butler, as he headed at goal from close-range.
Gillingham had their equal share of chances, Scott Wagstaff going close with a dipping effort on the hour that keeper Lawlor claimed at the second attempt.
The middle part of the second half was disrupted by injuries, with Gills’ Billy Bingham limping off. Tom Eaves had earlier been withdrawn after picking up a booking and getting a final warning for another foul.
Holy was there again to make a save after 77 minutes when Andrews’ free-kick squirmed through the wall and Marquis got a toe on the shot, but his effort couldn’t beat the big Czech keeper.
Moments later Ben Whiteman fired an effort off the bar for the hosts. Doncaster put the pressure on in the latter stages and there were big shouts for a penalty after Tommy Rowe went down in the box.
Whiteman went close again in injury time but O’Neill and Holy combined to turn the effort over the bar.
Doncaster: Lawlor, Blair (Kongolo 70mins), Andrew, Wright, Butler, Mason, Whiteman, Rowe, Coppinger, Marquis, Mandeville (May 90mins). Subs not used: Marosi, Alcock, Garratt, Beestin, Longbottom.
Gillingham: Holy, Ehmer, Zakuani, O’Neill, Ogilvie, Wagstaff (Nash 90mins), Byrne, Bingham (Wright 73mins), Martin, Eaves (Wilkinson 66mins), Parker. Subs not used: Hadler, Hessenthaler, Cundle, O’Mara.
Attendance: 7,512 (568 Gills)
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More by this authorLuke Cawdell