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Gillingham 3 Rochdale 0 match report

Gillingham have their first clean sheet in 27 League 1 games after beating Rochdale 3-0 at Priestfield on Saturday.

Frank Nouble’s deflected strike gave Gills the lead, with late goals from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Mark Byrne making sure of victory.

Rochdale were the better side in a goalless first half, without looking like scoring.

Frank Nouble celebrates scoring for the Gills Picture: Andy Jones
Frank Nouble celebrates scoring for the Gills Picture: Andy Jones

They looked dangerous out wide and in Callum Camps they had the brightest midfielder on show.

Gills were hit by the loss of Billy Knott to injury after only 14 minutes - maybe he’d have been the one to really get about Dale in the middle of the park - but it wasn’t to be.

It took Gills 25 minutes to muster a shot, Emmanuel-Thomas starting the move by intercepting a pass in midfield and combining with Cody McDonald before dragging the ball wide.

Justin Edinburgh’s side had the ball in the net on 37 minutes but Baily Cargill’s header from Bradley Dack’s free-kick was ruled out for offside.

For Dale, Joe Thompson’s control let him down in front of the Rainham End when found by Mendez-Laing, who then fired tamely at Stuart Nelson after space opened up on the edge of the box.

Other than that, Dale put plenty of balls in the box and got in shooting positions a few times but didn’t trouble Nelson.

The Rainham End came to life towards the end of the half but it was nothing to do with the football - a supporter refusing to go quietly as stewards tried to remove him from the ground.

Gillingham took the lead in the 53rd minute. Emmanuel-Thomas hurled in a long throw to Nouble who turned smartly and saw his shot - which was heading wide - go in off a Rochdale defender.

Frank Nouble fires Gills in front with a deflected strike Picture: Andy Jones
Frank Nouble fires Gills in front with a deflected strike Picture: Andy Jones

Gills were buzzing after the goal, with Cargill unlucky twice in a matter of seconds.

First, he saw a header from Jake Hessenthaler’s cross brilliantly turned behind by Conrad Logan, then hit the bar from Dack’s corner.

Gills were snappier in midfield, exactly what was needed in the first half, but there was a scare 15 minutes from time when Matt Lund’s strike was blocked on the line by Scott Wagstaff. Dack got in the way of Joe Rafferty’s follow-up, with Dale screaming for handball.

Pressure was starting to mount on the Gills goal - nerves growing with the clean sheet in sight - and Lund fired just wide soon after.

Gills, though, made sure of victory on 89 minutes when substitute Byrne played in Emmanuel-Thomas who beat Logan in a one-on-one.

The match was in the second minute of added time when Rory Donnelly laid on a tap-in for fellow substitute Byrne.

Gillingham: Nelson, Wagstaff, Konchesky, Wright, Hessenthaler, Knott (Nouble 14mins), Dack (Byrne 80mins), McDonald (Donnelly 88mins), Emmanuel-Thomas. Subs not used: Hadler, Herd, Oshilaja, Osadebe.

Rochdale: Logan, Rafferty, Tanser, McNulty, McGahey, Lund, Camps, Mendez-Laing (Odelusi 67mins), Rathbone (Henderson 51mins), Thompson, Bunney (Davies 51mins). Subs not used: Lillis, Canavan, Noble-Lazarus, Cannon.

Attendance: 5,409 (128 Dale fans).

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