Published: 14:45, 29 December 2019
| Updated: 16:56, 29 December 2019
Gillingham dominated the second half of their game against Rochdale but left it late to nick a winner.
The Gills had numerous chances after the break, with Alex Jakubiak and Brandon Hanlan both hitting the frame of the goal, before Connor Ogilvie headed home late on.
Mikael Mandron had hit the woodwork during an otherwise uneventful opening half at Priestfield.
Rochdale finished the game with 10 men after Jordan Williams picked up a second caution, pushing Ogilvie to the floor in the last minute.
It’s now seven wins in a row for the Gills at Priestfield, in all competitions.
Gillingham were facing a lowly-placed Rochdale side who had lost their previous two games ahead of the the middlemas fixture at Priestfield.
Steve Evans’ men deserved more than a point from their Boxing Day trip to highflyers Ipswich Town but hadn’t made their dominance count.
For the fourth game running Evans named the same starting XI.
Most of the chances in the opening half for the Gills fell to Mandron.
His three efforts got closer every time, curling the first into an empty Town End, his second at the keeper and his third against the upright.
The effort that hit the woodwork came off Olly Lee’s near-post corner and was the closest either team got to a goal in a first half that lacked a spark.
Max Ehmer got in the way of a volleyed shot from Rochdale’s Aaron Wilbraham but the visitors offered little going forward in the opening half.
Olly Lee had a shot of his own blocked and a free-kick late in the half was deflected wide, following a well rehearsed training ground routine, aiming for the bottom corner from a Tom O’Connor lay-off.
Gillingham started the second half brightly, with a trio of corners, but were unable to capitalise and a shot at the other end from youngster Kwadwo Baah went close.
Bonham saved well as the Baah attempted to curl one in from the edge of the box.
Mandron went close again for the Gills on the hour, having been picked out in the box by Tom O’Connor, but his shot was too close to the keeper.
Gills looked to freshen things up by introducing Mark Marshall and Alex Jakubiak and it worked. A free-kick routine led to a an early chance for Jakubiak, striking at goal from just outside the box, but his shot was blocked.
It was the start of a good spell for the Gills. Jakubiak hit a low effort against the woodwork, Lee had a close-range chance blocked and Hanlan went wide.
Rochdale were hanging on and Hanlan missed a great chance to put Gillingham deservedly infront. Jakubiak played him in but he fired the shot against the underside of the bar.
The Gills kept the pressure up and should have had a penalty when Olly Lee was chopped down inside the box. Referee David Rock said no.
Hanlan had another chance to open the scoring with 10 minutes left, after being played in by Jakubiak, but the keeper stretched to make the save.
Rochdale were non-existent as an attacking force and the Gills got a deserved goal with four minutes left.
Ogilvie was lurking at the far post and when a defender nodded a cross into his path, the finish was calm and assured.
Rochdale's bad day got worse when Williams lost his head and sent Ogilvie to the floor with a shove, having already earned himself a booking for a foul seconds earlier. It was like Christmas Day all over again for referee Rock as he dished out both cards at the same time.
Gillingham: Bonham, Fuller, Ogilvie, Ehmer, Tucker, Jones, O'Keefe, O'Connor, Lee (Charles-Cook 90mins), Hanlan, Mandron. Subs not used: Walsh, Hodson, Ndjoli, Pringle, Marshall, Jakubiak.
Rochdale: Sanchez, O’Connell, Dooley, Williams, Camps, Keohane (Matheson 66mins), Rathbone, McShane (Gillman 46mins), Wilbraham (Andrew 70mins), Magloire, Baah. Subs not used: Lynch, Pyke, Ryan, Tavares.
Attendance: 4761 (115 away)