Published: 16:45, 03 August 2019
| Updated: 19:18, 03 August 2019
Gillingham failed to capitalise on a number of early chances and had to settle for a point at Doncaster.
The Gills had numerous first half opportunities and took the lead at the Keepmoat Stadium but the hosts fought back.
A goal from Watford loanee Alex Jakubiak was cancelled out by Kieran Sadlier just before the break.
Seven of the players starting Saturday’s match were making their league debuts for the Gills.
Hosts Doncaster were facing up to life without star striker John Marquis - a former Gillingham loanee - after his midweek move to Portsmouth. A trio of players signed for the club on the eve of their season opener to help compensate.
Gills boss Steve Evans was starting his four-match touchline ban and watched from the stand, next to chairman Paul Scally.
Gillingham were posing plenty of problems in the opening half, with a lively performance from their forwards. Regan Charles-Cook was in the thick of much of it, with an early shot blocked on the line by Tom Anderson.
Mikael Ndjoli shot narrowly wide and also forced home keeper Ian Lawlor into making a good save. Brandon Hanlan had a shot blocked by Ben Whiteman but a deserved goal came with half an hour played.
Bonham’s kick was flicked on by Hanlan into the path of Ndjoli, who did well to get past two defenders, before then crossing for Jakubiak to steer home the opener.
Pace and power from Charles-Cook almost produced a second soon after, getting the better of defender Alex Baptiste out wide, before his shot was saved at his near post by Lawlor.
Doncaster ended the half well and the Gills were almost caught out when Reece James nipped infront of Charles-Cook inside the box. His shot was blocked by Lee Hodson.
The hosts were to get a goal, in the first minute of first half stoppage time, and it was a good finish from Sadlier to level it up.
James Coppinger - who had taken a couple of whacks off Barry Fuller in the half - finally got time on the ball to clip a ball forward to the striker. Sadlier got between Max Ehmer and Alfie Jones to volley home on the turn, with a crisp finish that was too good for Bonham.
Doncaster went close to taking a 60th minute lead when Brad Halliday picked out Madger Gomes in the box but his shot was deflected over by Jones.
Moments later there was a double sub for the Gills as Elliott List and Mark Marshall entered the fray. It came about as Doncaster began to take charge.
Bonham was called upon to save from former Hythe man Alfie May as he shot low from the edge of the box. Whiteman also hit a speculative long-range effort over the bar.
Baptiste headed wide for the hosts from Coppinger’s free-kick with 10 minutes left as the Gills struggled to create second half chances themselves.
It was a nervy finish for the Gills and May went close with a shot that Bonham parried away and the follow-up from substitute Ali Crawford was blocked.
Whiteman dragged a low shot wide in the 92nd minute as the Gills were hanging on at the end.
Doncaster: Lawlor, Halliday, James, Anderson, Coppinger (Crawford 84mins), Sheaf, Sadlier, Whiteman, Gomes (Ennis 67mins), Baptiste, May. Subs not used: Dieng, John, Blair, Longbottom, Kiwomya.
Gillingham: Bonham, Hodson, Fuller, Jones, Ehmer, O’Keefe, Cisse, Charles-Cook (Marshall 62mins), Ndjoli (Byrne 73mins), Jakubiak (List 62mins), Hanlan. Subs not used: Walsh, Garmston, Ogilvie, Mandron.
Attendance: 7,939 (618 away)
More by this authorLuke Cawdell
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