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Gillingham 2 Rochdale 2: Vadaine Oliver’s opener cancelled out by Jimmy Keohane’s second half double but John Akinde pounces late on

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Gillingham grabbed a point against Rochdale at home thanks to John Akinde’s last-gasp goal on Saturday.

Vadaine Oliver put Gillingham ahead just before the break but a quickfire double from Jimmy Keohane midway through the second half turned the match around in Rochdale’s favour.

Akinde earned a point for the hosts with a stoppage-time goal as the match finished 2-2.

Gillingham boss Steve Evans was able to name both Olly Lee and Kyle Dempsey after the pair shrugged off knocks picked up the previous weekend at Accrington. It meant an unchanged line-up for the home side.

Rochdale had suffered a 4-1 defeat to the Gills a month before, but they made five changes from that team, including the return of their 10-goal leading scorer Matt Lund.

Gills keeper Jack Bonham had to get a hand to a couple of early strikes from outside the box, the second from Oliver Rathbone coming close to dipping under his bar.

Rochdale had a couple of other good chances, none better than a free-kick whipped in by Aaron Morley that was met unmarked by Lund but he headed into the ground and the Gills were grateful to see it bounce over.

Kwadwo Baah looked good on the ball but when an opportunity opened up for him, after leaving Tom O’Connor in his wake, the wide-man fired well wide. Alex Newby also fired into the empty Rainham End after creating himself a chance.

The Gills were struggling to find a way through, but late in the half a couple of short corner routines caught the visitors out. Lee was denied at the near post from one of them before Oliver pounced to put the home side ahead in the 43rd minute.

Graham had laid the ball off for Callum Slattery and from his cross Oliver stabbed the ball at goal. Goalkeeper Gavin Mazunu made the save but the ball dropped invitingly for the Gills striker to finish at the second attempt. It was Oliver’s first goal in seven and his eighth of the season.

John Akinde equalised late on for Gillingham against Rochdale
John Akinde equalised late on for Gillingham against Rochdale

Bonham dived low to deny Baah early in the second half but an even better stop at the other end from Bazunu kept Connor Ogilvie’s close-range header out after he met Graham’s free-kick.

Tom O’Connor also dragged a shot wide for the home side.

Rochdale equalised in the 69th minute when Lund’s ball over the top of the Gills defence was met by Jimmy Keohane. The flag stayed down and the Rochdale player controlled well before planting a low shot beyond Bonham.

Keohane put his side ahead six minutes later with a low shot from the edge of the box that just crept into the bottom corner. The impressive Baah, who had switched sides, played a hand in both goals, laying the ball off for the second.

Bonham had to save with his feet to deny Newby late on but there was time for late drama. Rochdale were unable to clear from a throw and when the ball fell for Akinde, he was well placed to place his first-time effort home in the second minute of stoppage time.

Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, O’Connor, Ogilvie, Tucker, Slattery (Willock 89mins), Dempsey, MacDonald (Johnson 76mins), Lee, Graham, Oliver (Akinde 76mins). Subs not used: Walsh, O’Keefe, McKenzie, Lintott.

Rochdale: Bazunu, McLaughlin, Osho, Dooley, Morley, Newby, Keohane, Rathbone, Roberts, Lund, Baah (Hopper 84mins). Subs not used: Beesley, Done, Tavares. Bradley, Brierley.

Referee: Christopher Pollard

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