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Doncaster Rovers 2 Gillingham 1: Kyle Dempsey on target in defeat at the Keepmoat Stadium


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Gillingham’s five-game unbeaten run in League 1 came to an end at Doncaster.

Reece James put Doncaster infront at the break and although Gills equalised through Kyle Dempsey the hosts quickly restored their advantage through Brad Halliday.

Kyle Dempsey was on target for the Gills at Doncaster
Kyle Dempsey was on target for the Gills at Doncaster

Both teams went into Saturday’s game pushing towards the League 1 play-off places.

The Gills had travelled north with a number of injury concerns but were able to name both Kyle Dempsey and Dominic Samuel in the XI. Jacob Mellis was also involved again following knee surgery but was replaced after coming on at the break.

Gills boss Steve Evans was watching from the stand, apparently after receiving a touchline ban for a picking up too many yellow cards, the latest of those coming in a midweek EFL Trophy defeat at Cambridge.

Doncaster had large spells of possession in the opening half at the Keepmoat Stadium and looked to pick a way through the Gills. Their persistence paid off with an opening goal in the 29th minute.

The goal had been coming with Andy Butler heading a chance over, Matt Smith having a shot blocked and Tyreece John-Jules going close with a low drive.

John-Jules was involved in the opener, laying the ball off to James after the ball had dropper kindly following a Connor Ogilvie block. The Doncaster goalscoerer found the bottom corner.

Gillingham responded well with an inviting Tom O’Connor corner that was nearly converted by Ogilvie. A shot from Alex MacDonald found the side netting after he had won possession back in a dangerous area before swapping passes with John Akinde.

Doncaster ended the half on the offensive, however, forcing Jack Bonham into a good save to deny Taylor Richards.

Gillingham made a double switch at the break and also changed shape up top as John Akinde was withdrawn for Mellis. The Gills made a bright start after the turnaround and levelled six minutes in through Dempsey, finding the bottom corner after Oliver had won the ball in the air.

Parity didn’t last long, however, as Doncaster levelled two minutes later. Bonham did well to save from Ben Whiteman but Halliday smashed in the loose ball to restore the home side’s lead.

Bonham made a couple of routine saves to deny Richards before a spectacular one-handed block from the Gillingham goalie turned Josh Sims’ shot wide after Jack Tucker had lost possession.

Doncaster came even closer to a third when Fejiri Okenabiehie cracked an effort against the woodwork and he also missed with a chance moments later after Jon Taylor’s shot had been parried by Bonham.

The Gills were committing plenty of men forward in the latter stages but the defence parted when Halliday ran at them, looking for the top corner but shooting over. With 26 shots on goal Doncaster will have wanted more goals than they got.

Doncaster: Lumley, Halliday, James, Anderson, Whiteman, Smith (Coppinger 89mins), Richards (Taylor 75mins), John-Jules (Okenabirhie 80mins), Sims, Butler, John. Subs not used: Jones, Lokilo, Amos, Hasani.

Gillingham: Bonham. Jackson, O’Connor (Coyle 66mins), Ogilvie, Tucker, McKenzie, MacDonald (Medley 46mins), Dempsey, Samuel, Akinde (Mellis 46mins (Eccles 83mins)), Oliver. Subs not used: Walsh, Woods, Drysdale.

Referee: Trevor Kettle

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