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Gillingham manager Steve Lovell reacts to their 1-1 draw with Rochdale

Gillingham boss Steve Lovell had no problems with a bit of rough and tumble.

Defender Connor Ogilvie got clattered twice in the second half on Saturday as visitors Rochdale turned the match into a physical battle.

Dale strikers Aaron Wilbraham and Calvin Andrew both escaped with yellow cards as Ogilvie was left in a heap twice. The relegation threatened visitors ended the game with five players cautioned but eleven men on the pitch.

Gillingham manager Steve Lovell with assistant Mark Patterson Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham manager Steve Lovell with assistant Mark Patterson Picture: Ady Kerry

Lovell and Wilbraham had a frank exchange on the sideline after Andrew’s challenge but the Gills boss wasn’t holding any grudges.

He said: “There were a few nasty challenges out there but the referee has got to take control of it, which he thought he had done, perhaps he did, I don’t know.

“I know Connor wouldn’t have gone down unless he had got hit but that’s the way it is. Their big centre forward (Wilbraham) is a handful, he is a good player.

“We had a few words when Connor went down for the second challenge. It is part of the game isn’t it? We called each other names and it is all handbags isn’t it?

“At the end of the game we shake each other’s hand and it’s all done and dusted. Tony Ellis, their assistant and their manager (Brian Barry-Murphy) is a lovely fella, it is passion. We get passionate about it too but at the end of the day we shake hands and we will have a laugh and a joke about it afterwards in the manager’s office.”

The home crowd were frustrated with some of Rochdale’s time-wasting too, but it’s nothing Lovell’s men wouldn’t have done themselves had they needed to.

“We would do the same," he said.

"You would never have a go at goalkeepers taking their time or people doing down with cramp.

“They were desperate to get that point and you hang onto it. It is professionalism, that’s what it is. Nothing else. You are fighting for your lives, you don’t want to give anything away, it’s part of the game."

Tom Eaves congratulates Mark Byrne after he scored the equaliser Picture: Ady Kerry
Tom Eaves congratulates Mark Byrne after he scored the equaliser Picture: Ady Kerry

The Gills boss added: "They would have taken a point in the morning.

“Rochdale are one of those funny teams. There are three teams I don’t particularly like playing, Rochdale, Oldham and Bury, because you never know what you are going to get.

“They can be brilliant on their day and on another day they can be really bad but I thought they were excellent and they gave their manager everything and made it a very good entertaining game of football.

The Gills conceded first but levelled through Mark Byrne. They had the better of the second half but couldn’t find a winner.

Lovell said: “It was quite an entertaining game and I enjoyed it.

“Both teams were going for it, there was plenty on it and there were quite a few feisty challenges.

“It was different to what we have been used to over the last few weeks, where we could get the ball down and pass it, today (Saturday) it was one where we had to roll our sleeves up and dig in and they did that as well.

“I thought first half was pretty even, second we took control and just couldn’t get the second goal.”

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