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Gillingham 1 Rochdale 0: Scott Kashket goal separates the sides at Priestfield in League 2 match

Gillingham enjoyed their opening home game of the season with a dominant performance and three points against Rochdale.

Scott Kashket opened his Gillingham account with a fine headed effort after just nine minutes and that’s the way it stayed, despite the home side deserving more.

Gillingham celebrate their opener against Rochdale Picture: Barry Goodwin (58481580)
Gillingham celebrate their opener against Rochdale Picture: Barry Goodwin (58481580)

Ben Reeves was promoted to the starting line-up after his impressive performance the week before at AFC Wimbledon, a decision made easier as Dom Jefferies was missing with a knock picked up in that game.

Reeves’ energy helped the Gills make a positive start against Dale, playing behind striker Mikael Mandron as Olly Lee dropped deeper. Both enjoyed a good first 45 minutes as the Gills dominated possession.

They took a one-goal lead into the break, scored after nine minutes when Kashket ran to met Will Wright’s pinpoint free-kick, unseen by the Rochdale defence. With a cushioned header he guided the ball into the top corner of goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell’s near post.

Rochdale did little to threaten, forcing Glenn Morris into just the one notable save, although Toumani Diagouraga’s header might have been going over anyway, nodding the ball towards goal after Ethan Brierley’s corner was headed clear by Elkan Baggott.

Gillingham looked lively and kept the ball well, knocking on the door for a second goal as Lee had a shot saved, Ryan Law had one blocked and a rasping effort from Shaun Williams was parried by O’Donnell before being cleared.

Busy Gills forward Jordan Green did a good job of unsettling the visiting defence several times and he was the player fouled leading up to the opening goal

Scott Kashket opens the scoring for Gillingham Picture: Barry Goodwin (58481587)
Scott Kashket opens the scoring for Gillingham Picture: Barry Goodwin (58481587)

Gillingham had tasted relegation disappointment in their last game at Priestfield but were clapped off at the break by a satisfied home crowd.

The Gills started the second half in equally dominant fashion, with Rochdale penned in. Ben Reeves had a free-kick tipped over by the keeper as the hosts mounted continued pressure.

When Rochdale did threaten, the Gills protected their goal well, Elkan Baggott blocking one cross and Shaun Williams getting in the way of a shot.

The visitors looked to be getting back into the game and introduced former Charlton forward Abraham Odoh off the bench with an hour gone to enhance their attack.

Gillingham responded and it needed a save at full-stretch from O’Donnell to deny Reeves after Green’s persistence had created an opening.

Mikael Mandron had a chance to seal it with a header but put the 75th minute effort over the bar from another inviting Wright cross.

Gillingham withstood some late Rochdale pressure but defended well to keep hold of the three points.

Gillingham: Morris, Wright, Law, Baggott, Ehmer, Williams, Lee, Kashket (Alexander 90mins), Reeves, Green (MacDonald 83mins), Mandron (Walker 79mins). Subs not used: Turner, Akehurst, Tutonda.

Rochdale: O’Donnell, Seriki, White (Sinclair 68mins), Ebanks-Landell, Ball, Rodney, Brierley (Odoh 61mins), Graham, Diagouraga, John, Henderson. Subs not used: Slicker, McNulty, Taylor, Nelson, Scanlon.

Attendance: 4,233 (169 away)

Referee: Will Finnie

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