Published: 15:45, 01 December 2019
| Updated: 09:50, 02 December 2019
Gillingham will join the big-boys in round three of the FA Cup after a convincing win over Doncaster.
Early goals from Mark Byrne and Olly Lee put Gillingham in the driving seat on Sunday.
A quality finish from Brandon Hanlan sealed the win in the second half
The Gills were due a win over Doncaster, heading into the match at Priestfield without a win over the south Yorkshire side in their last six meetings.
Rovers started the match two places and two points ahead of the Gills in the League 1 table. A place in round three and a potential money-spinning tie was on offer for the winner.
Boss Steve Evans spoke about a number of injury concerns ahead of the game but made just one change to the side that lost to Wimbledon the previous week. Injured Stuart O’Keefe was replaced by Tom O’Connor.
Doncaster made just two changes to their team, one of which was enforced, but they were second best for much of the opening half, as the Gills made a terrific start. The visitors changed formation early on to try and counter the bright hosts.
Gillingham had an early penalty appeal turned down when Mikael Mandron looked to have been dragged to the deck by defender Brad Halliday. Referee Darren Handley waved play on and O’Connor blasted wide.
Evans’ side took the lead after just 11 minutes when Doncaster struggled to clear their lines, the ball dropped at the feet of Byrne and he found the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Just four minutes later and the lead was doubled. O’Connor’s ball forward looked on the heavy side but Lee plucked it out of the air with his toe and then lobbed the keeper, who was unlucky not to turn the effort over the bar, after getting a desperate hand to it.
Kieran Sadlier smashed a chance wide as Doncaster had a rare foray forward and back at the other end O’Connor should have made it three, firing wide from close-range after being picked out by Hanlan.
There were numerous other half chances for the Gills but they got to the break with a 2-0 lead.
An injury to a match official led to a delay to the start of the second half but the Gills started brightly again. Hanlan drove his way into the box to create a chance and when the ball was cleared Connor Ogilvie headed over.
James Coppinger fired a shot at the Gills keeper but they two goal cushion didn’t look troubled. Rovers made a double change after the hour to try and get their way back into the tie.
The game turned scrappy with fouls committed from both teams, with Ogilvie and Tucker on the receiving end of some rough treatment but a goal from Hanlan lit up Priestfield, adding the third goal on 68 minutes.
Hanlan shrugged off the attention of Joe Wright before finishing well infront of the Rainham End, beating keeper Seny Dieng from close range.
Doncaster were beaten but seemed intent to leave their mark, with a few more late challenges, leaving several players in the referee’s notebook.
Hanlan should have had a second, when he got free of Reece James, but shot over with just the keeper to beat.
Gillingham: Bonham, Fuller (Hodson 90mins), Tucker, Ehmer, Ogilvie, O'Connor, Jones, Byrne, Lee, Hanlan (Willock 90mins), Mandron (Ndjoli 90mins). Subs not used: Walsh, Charles-Cook, Marshall, Jakubiak.
Doncaster: Dieng, John, Halliday, James, Coppinger, Wright, Sheaf, Sadlier (May 64mins), Whiteman, Bingham (Taylor 84mins), Gomes (Thomas 64mins). Subs not used: Lawlor, Amos, Blaney, Greaves.
Attendance: 3,216 (205 away).
More by this authorLuke Cawdell