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Gillingham 2 Doncaster Rovers 2: Jordan Graham and Vadaine Oliver’s goals cancelled out by Tom Anderson and James Coppinger

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Gillingham claimed a point against high-flying Doncaster but they should have had more following a terrific start.

Goals from Jordan Graham and Vadaine Oliver gave the Gills a dream start against Doncaster, 2-0 up after just four minutes, but the visitors hit back before the break with a quickfire double of their own to level it up.

Vadaine Oliver scored his 16th of the season on Saturday Picture: Andy Jones
Vadaine Oliver scored his 16th of the season on Saturday Picture: Andy Jones

Graham hit the post in the second half as the Gills went for a winner without success.

Gillingham were unchanged for the visit of fifth-placed Doncaster, with both Connor Ogilvie and Alex MacDonald overcoming midweek injuries to play the match.

Starting the match with the play-off places in touching distance after their midweek win over Lincoln and preparing to play a team struggling for points on the road, there was plenty of confidence in the Gills camp before kick off.

The Gills were ahead after just two minutes. John Akinde started the move by getting the better of a defender and spreading the ball out wide to MacDonald, he found Dempsey and when a shot was deflected off the keeper, Graham had time to pick his spot.

It got even better for the Gills two minutes later when Ryan Jackson picked out Oliver with a cross and he converted on the volley.

At that stage the Gills were sitting sixth in the League 1 table.

Robbie Cundy headed a good chance over during those frantic early moments but Doncaster gradually worked their way back into it and got a goal back on 19 minutes.

Tom Anderson headed home from a James Coppinger cross to get the visitors back in the game.

Coppinger had early in the game played a couple of good forward balls, one which was met by Fejiri Okenabirhie and he shot wide and another where Omar Bogle was denied by the linesman’s flag with just the keeper to beat.

It was Coppinger who got his side level on 23 minutes, converting after Cundy only half cleared into his path, having moments earlier lost out to the Doncaster man, as the move started.

Both sides had chances to score a third before the break but the sides went in level. Both Cundy and Oliver had been on the receiving end of some off the ball treatment as Doncaster met the physical challenge head on.

Gillingham had Doncaster pegged back at the start of the second half with a number of set-pieces but the closest they came was an Oliver header going wide at the near post from a Jackson throw.

MacDonald had a shot deflected wide for the Gills on the hour and despite the home side looking more likely to score, Doncaster remained a threat on the break.

Cundy had to clear off the line to deny Brad Halliday and with 20 minutes left Evans switched things, taking Akinde off for Olly Lee. Doncaster’s rough play continued as Okenabirhie’s high challenge on Stuart O’Keefe earned him a booking. The Gills management clearly felt it was a lenient punishment. It was a challenge that ended O’Keefe’s afternoon.

Gillingham came close to a goal with 11 minutes left, Graham’s deep crossing missing everyone and striking the post before bouncing out into the path of Dempsey, but his shot was deflected wide by Joe Wright.

Oliver put a couple more efforts wide for the Gills and had a shot blocked with minutes left

Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, Ogilvie, Cundy, Tucker, Dempsey, MacDonald (O’Connor 78mins), O’Keefe (McKenzie 78mins), Graham, Akinde (Lee 71mins), Oliver. Subs not used: Bastien, Willock, Johnson, McKenzie, Woods.

Doncaster: Jones, Halliday, James, Anderson, Coppinger (Richards 61mins), Horton, Sims (Lokilo 69mins), Wright, Bogle, Okenabirhie (Gomes 88mins) Smith. Subs not used: Balcombe, Robertson, John, Greaves.

Referee: Will Finnie

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