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Gillingham 0 Rotherham United 3: Super Matt Crooks strike lights up Priestfield after Michael Smith’s easy opener

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A defensive lapse put Gillingham on the backfoot against Rotherham.

Michael Smith was gifted the opener for the visitors and a class finish from Matt Crooks put them two ahead at the break.

Brandon Hanlan in action for Gillingham against Rotherham Picture: Ady Kerry (20698375)
Brandon Hanlan in action for Gillingham against Rotherham Picture: Ady Kerry (20698375)

Gillingham had a number of chances second half but weren’t clinical enough to get themselves back into the game and Crooks made it three late on.

Gillingham’s only change to the team that started the previous week’s match at Accrington was upfront, where Alex Jakubiak was preferred over Mikael Mandron.

A sliding tackle from Tom O'Connor prevened an early Rotherham goal as a low cross was aimed towards Chiedoze Ogbene, but it was a fairly even start.

The Gills often felt they were on the receiving end of some poor decisions from referee Lee Swabey and manager Steve Evans’ protests earned him a booking.

Regan Charles-Cook looked like he was in on goal, after the ball nicked off a defender into his path, but the offside flag wrongly went up.

Evans and his team were livid when Swabey pointed to the spot after 18 minutes when Connor Ogilvie was adjudged to have pushed Richard Wood in the back when defending a corner. Jack Bonham saved Smith’s penalty but would quickly go from hero to zero.

Less than 60 seconds later and Smith had his goal. Ogilvie played the ball past his own keeper, who had slid out, and Smith raced onto the pass before finishing.

Brandon Hanlan smashed a shot wide at the other end and another of Swabey’s decisions had the Gills’ management fuming when the same forward went down under pressure from Michael Ihiekwe on the edge of the box, having done well to win the ball out wide. Play was waved on.

A tantalising cross from Regan Charles-Cook went over the head of Hanlan as the Gills kept pressing but Rotherham struck again, just before the break.

Jamie Lindsay got the better of Max Ehmer, clipped the ball forward to Crooks and a delightful touch took the ball past Ogilvie before an even better one beat Bonham from 30 yards, with the Gills keeper off his line.

An early penalty appeal from the Gills, as Ehmer went down in the box from a corner, wasn’t of interest to the officials.

Regan Charles-Cook came close to finding Hanlan with a cross and Alex Jakubiak had a shot deflected wide after beating a couple of defenders to a long ball forward.

The Gills kept pressing and Ehmer had a shot than was turned out for a corner from a defensive block. Mark Byrne also bent a shot just wide and Mikael Ndjoli’s drilled effort from the edge of the box went the same way.

Visiting keeper Daiel Iversen had seen plenty happening infront of him but the Gills struggled to find their range. Another Ndjoli shot curled the wrong side of the post.

Iversen’s first save came with 11 minutes left, making himself big to deny Byrne after Ndjoli had played the midfielder in.

Rotherham looked to run the clock down when they could and full-time came without a goal for the Gills.

It was Rotherham who found the net late on, scoring on 88 minutes. A Carlton Morris pass split the Gills defence and Crooks side-footed home his second of the game.

Gillingham: Bonham, Tucker (Marshall 76mins), Ehmer, Ogilvie, O'Connor, Jones, Byrne, Charles-Cook (Lee 67mins), O'Keefe, Jakubiak (Ndjoli 67mins), Hanlan. Subs not used: Royce, Hodson, Mandron, Pringle.

Rotherham: Iversen; Jones, Ihiekwe, Wood, Mattock; Ogbene (Olosunde 69mins), Lindsay, WIles, Clarke; Crooks; Smith. Subs not used: Price, Barlaser, Lamy, Hastie, Ladapo, Morris.

Attendance: 4,893 (352 away)

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