Published: 14:00, 30 April 2022
| Updated: 09:01, 01 May 2022
Gillingham will be playing League 2 football after suffering a final-day defeat at the hands of Rotherham United - who are promoted.
Rarmani Edmonds-Green put The Millers infront but the crossbar denied Ben Thompson from equalising at the end of the first half. The Gills had a go second half but Rotherham scored a late second.
Gillingham manager Neil Harris named an unchanged team for the big match at Priestfield. The target was safety while the visitors knew a win could see them crowned champions of League 1.
The Miller took charge of the first half and it needed some well-timed challenges from Jack Tucker, Ryan Jackson and Max Ehmer to keep them out.
Rotherham went infront from a 34th minute corner. Michael Ihiekwe had put a couple of early chances wide but when he won a header unopposed from Dan Barlaser’s corner, Edmonds-Green was on hand to get the final touch to force the ball home.
Prior to that, Gillingham’s best chances had come from set-plays, only to find Richard Wood bossing the United box. Ben Reeves did find the target with a free-kick but goalkeeper Viktor Johnsson was equal to it.
Once Rotherham took the lead they came close to adding a second soon after. Michael Smith was picked out in space but he side-footed a glorious chance wide.
Gillingham almost nicked an equaliser in first half stoppage-time, Jack Tucker met a corner and nodded it into the path of Ben Thompson but his shot bounced to safety off the underside of the crossbar.
Gillingham’s home crowd raised the noise levels with Fleetwood losing at Bolton, meaning a goal would have changed it all. At that stage a draw would have been enough.
With the Blues attacking the Rainham End, there was real belief of turning the afternoon around.
Rotherham were on the defensive as Vadaine Oliver came close to converting a couple of balls into the box. Max Ehmer also went close to scoring at the far post from Ben Reeves’ free-kick.
The visitors remained a threat and it needed a super reflex save from Chapman to deny Ben Wiles with almost an hour gone of the absorbing match.
Thompson was so close to picking out Olly Lee free in the box for the Gills but Barlaser got a toe on the ball to take it out of his path.
Wiles had a go from distance for the visitors but Chapman got behind it to keep the Gills well in contention.
The Gills reverted to a back four for the final 15 minutes but that change came at the same time as Fleetwood equalising against Bolton. The task was even harder at that stage. With the defence more vulnerable, Chapman had to be on top form again to save from Wiles as Rotherham looked to finish the job.
Bolton took a 3-2 lead against Fleetwood which led to Gills’ fans singing “we only need one goal!”
Visiting fans were on the pitch with four minutes left, and a flare thrown on the pitch, when Richard Wood had the ball in the net but his effort was disallowed.
The game had really opened up with the Gills pushing for that goal they needed but after Tucker lost the ball out wide, a low cross was met by Kelly and he fired home the second, sealing the fate of both teams.
Young striker Gerald Sithole came on for the final few minutes but they couldn’t get back into it and finished the game, and the season, inside the relegation zone.
Gillingham: Chapman, Jackson, Tutonda (Sithole 87mins), Masterson (Phillips 74mins), Ehmer, Tucker, O’Keefe, Lee, (Carayol 67mins), Thompson, Reeves, Oliver. Subs not used: Dahlberg, Maghoma, Lintott, Chambers,.
Rotherham: Johansson, Harding, Barlaser, Wood, Osei-Tutu (Mattock 67mins), Wiles, Ogbene, Rathbone (Odoffin 90mins), Ihiekwe, Edmonds-Green, Smith (Kelly 80mins). Subs not used: Chapman, Bola, Lindsay, Kayode.
Referee: Samuel Barrott
Attendance: 8,542 (2,256 away)