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Gillingham 1 Doncaster Rovers 0: Stuart O’Keefe awarded late winner at Priestfield

Gillingham midfielder Stuart O’Keefe netted the winning goal against League 1's bottom side Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday night.

O’Keefe was awarded the goal, although Vadaine Oliver was also claiming it, but the fans won’t care as the 79th-minute effort ensured the Gills took maximum points from the match at Priestfield.

Stuart O'Keefe was credited with Gillingham's winning goal Picture: Andy Jones
Stuart O'Keefe was credited with Gillingham's winning goal Picture: Andy Jones

Gillingham’s starting XI was unchanged from the weekend clash with Sunderland but the game was only 25 minutes old when pre-match doubt Mustapha Carayol limped off injured.

Doncaster started the evening without a point on the road from their opening six away games, scoring just twice while Gillingham had the worst home record in the division. Both teams needed a win.

The Gills had been on a losing run heading into the fixture but the performance against Sunderland had rightly been described as the best of the season by manager Steve Evans.

Tuesday’s first half lacked the thrill factor at a sparsely-populated Priestfield.

Kyle Knoyle put a good early chance wide for Doncaster after being slipped in but the only shot on target from either side in the opening 45 minutes was a weak effort from Joe Dodoo that Gills keeper Jamie Cumming comfortably dealt with.

On another occasion Cumming rushed to the edge of his box to put Jordy Hiwula off and he shot wide. Tommy Rowe also saw a header drop wide of the post for the visitors with Dodoo stretching to reach it.

Robbie McKenzie had been denied an equaliser against Sunderland with a stunning save and he had a couple of chances again that weren’t far away. A header glanced the outside of the post and a long-range effort went close.

Evans made a switch at the break, with Dan Adshead coming into midfield and Tucker dropping back to his more natural central defensive role. Max Ehmer was the man taken off.

Referee Sam Purkiss needed treatment from the Gills physio after getting a ball in his face and then got in the way of the subsequent drop-ball. At least he was doing his best to liven things up at ME7.

Gillingham started to get going and Danny Lloyd had a shot blocked before Kyle Dempsey’s curled effort went the wrong side of the post. He went a little closer with the same kind of attempt later in the half.

Doncaster were lacking quality in the final third but Cumming wasn’t taking any chances with a low drive from Tiago Cukur that looked to have been going wide, getting a touch on it anyway. The referee helpfully gave a goal kick.

The Gills were bossing the half but having trouble making it count until Lloyd’s corner was headed towards goal by Oliver in the 79th minute, with O’Keefe adjudged to have got the final touch, the ball going in off his back.

The win moves Gills up to 19th in League 1 with 14 points from as many games.

Gillingham: Cumming, Jackson, McKenzie, Ehmer (Adshead 46mins), Bennett, Tucker, O’Keefe, Dempsey, Lloyd (Lee 90mins), Carayol (Akinde 25mins), Oliver. Subs not used: Chapman, Kelman, Reeves, Sithole.

Doncaster: Dahlberg, Knoyle, Anderson, Williams (Oluwu 80mins), Close, Rowe, Bostock, Hiwula, Dodoo, Cukur (Smith 76mins), Galbraith. Subs not used: Jones, Barlow, Horton, Hasani.

Referee: Sam Purkiss.

Attendance: 3,713

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