Published: 16:40, 15 September 2018
| Updated: 18:43, 15 September 2018
Gillingham failed to handle Rochdale dangerman Ian Henderson and paid the price.
Henderson helped himself to a hat-trick against the struggling Gills, firing home twice in the opening 18 minutes.
Tom Eaves hit the woodwork for the visitors in the second half but Henderson’s acrobatic finish made it 3-0 to Rochdale.
Gillingham boss Steve Lovell made three changes to his eleven and switched formation, starting with a 4-5-1 set-up, with Josh Parker and Luke O’Neill playing either side of Eaves.
Dean Parrett was back in for his first start since early August, after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Lovell was looking for a response following the poor performance against Wimbledon the week before and the Gills did start the game brightly, Eaves forcing a save from the home keeper inside three minutes.
Rochdale, looking for some home joy after losing their first three league games at the Crown Oil Arena this season, hit the Gills with a goal against the run of play, opening the scoring with just nine minutes gone.
Calvin Andrew was able to get the better of Bradley Garmston and Alex Lacey to pick out striker Henderson and he finished well.
Henderson, good on the ball and strong off it, doubled the lead nine minutes later. Max Ehmer’s clearance was headed back by Oliver Rathbone, the loose ball was picked up by Matthew Gillam and he picked out the run of the Rochdale striker, who still had plenty to do, but from an angle managed to fire home beyond Tomas Holy.
Gillingham kept looking for a way through. Eaves was bundled over in the box but the referee waved away the penalty appeals. The Gills striker continued to have chances, with two good opportunities off balls in from Mark Byrne. His first one went over the bar and he then headed a better chance over.
The home side twice had goals ruled out for fouls, once in each half. Holy was knocked over from a corner in the first half and referee Martin Coy penalised Henderson for a foul as he headed in a free-kick early after the restart.
Eaves struck the top of the crossbar early on, with a dipping effort from the edge of the box, while Gillam headed an effort wide for Dale as Andrew picked him out.
There was a reshuffle for the Gills on the hour, with Elliott List taking to the field and the Gills reverting to a 4-4-2 diamond formation.
Shortly after the change around Dale scored a third and it was Henderson with a super finish to complete his hat-trick. Garmston’s slip allowed Andrew in down the left and when his cross was too deep, Aaron Wilbrahim put it back into the danger area where Henderson was lurking.
List headed wide for the Gills while Sam Hart went close for the hosts. Substitute Hanlan looked lively when he came on but it’s now six without a win for Lovell’s side, picking up just one point from those games.
Gillingham: Holy, Fuller, Garmston, Lacey, Ehmer, Reilly, Parrett (Hanlan 83mins), Byrne, O’Neill (Nasseri 71mins), Parker (List 57mins), Eaves. Subs not used: Hadler, Ogilvie, Wilkinson, Rees.
Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, Hart, Delaney, McGahey, Camps, Rathbone, Gillam (Adshead 92mins), Wilbraham, Andrew (Williams 77mins), Henderson (Done 89mins). Subs not used: McNulty, Perkins, Moore, Matheson.
Attendance: 2,925 (194 away)