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Doncaster 2 Gillingham 1: Match report and highlights from League 2 match at the Eco-Power Stadium; Conor Masterson on target for Gills but Ben Close brace settles it

Gillingham were beaten by a late long-range goal at Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.

Conor Masterson headed the Gills level moments before the interval after Ben Close put Doncaster ahead from a free-kick. Both sides looked for a second-half winner and the hosts got it when Close fired home from 30 yards.

Gillingham manager Neil Harris
Gillingham manager Neil Harris

Gillingham started the afternoon top of the table but were wary of a Doncaster side coming to life after winning their first league game of the season the previous weekend.

There was a change in personnel and formation for the Gills. Tom Nichols came in to start alongside Macauley Bonne for the first time and Max Ehmer returned to the back-line as part of a five-man defence.

The Gills were reliant on Jake Turner keeping Doncaster out early on when Louie Marsh played Mo Faal in but the striker couldn’t beat the goalkeeper from a one-on-one situation.

Doncaster did strike first, however, from a set-piece. Max Ehmer shielded the ball back to Turner but referee Thomas Parsons felt he got a touch and awarded the hosts an indirect free-kick, just inside the box.

Ehmer’s protests were ignored and Zain Westbrooke played the ball into the path of Close and his low strike found the net through a crowded box.

Gillingham weren’t short of chances in the half, with home goalie Louis Jones saving from Scott Malone and Macauley Bonne.

Shaun Williams was also denied by Jones, tipping the captain’s header onto the bar before it was cleared. His chance came from a well-worked corner, with Masterson arriving at the back post and putting the ball back in.

It was from another corner that that Gills levelled much later in the half, this time Masterson met Mahoney’s flag-kick and looped a header back across goal for an equalising goal in the second minute of stoppage-time.

The Gills were deservedly level at the break but struggles early in the second half to create any chances of note. Cheye Alexander put a shot well over just before Nichols was replaced by Ashley Nadesan.

Almost immediately the Gills threatened. Malone intrerceted a pass in full flight, he crossed deep and found Masterson, and from a cut-back Bonne blasted wide.

Masterson continued to find himself in good forward areas as he missed the target himself moments later.

Turner had to show good hands to hold onto George Broadbent’s headed effort with 20 minutes left as both teams sought a winner. The Gills keeper also had to get down quickly to deny Close his second of the afternoon.

Bonne had half a chance late on when Malone’s low cross got to him too quickly to sort his feet out and the ball bounced safely to the keeper.

Close did get his second goal and it was a super strike, beating Turner from 30 yards to restore Doncaster’s lead in the 88th minute.

Mahoney had a shot blocked in stoppage-time and Alexander struck an effort wide before Shad Ogie came close to an equaliser from a corner.

Doncaster: Jones, Anderson, Olowu, Molyneux, Biggins (Broadbent 64mins), Nixon, Bailey, Westbrooke, Close, Marsh (Faulkner 90mins), Faal (Ironside 64mins). Subs not used: Bottomley, Sotona, Roberts, Goodman.

Gillingham: Turner, Alexander, Malone, Ogie, Masterson, Ehmer (Clarke 88mins), S Williams (McKenzie 73mins), Coleman (Gbode 88mins), Mahoney, Bonne, Nichols (Nadesan 60mins). Subs not used: Morris, Clark.

Referee: Thomas Parsons

Attendance: 6,371 (580 away)

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