Published: 16:40, 23 September 2017
The pressure was heaped back on manager Ady Pennock following a disappointing display at Rochdale.
Gillingham conceded twice in a two-minute spell midway through the opening half.
The dismissal of Tom Eaves, a straight red for a challenge on Joseph Rafferty, was made worse by an injury to fellow striker Conor Wilkinson, capping a woeful half for the Gills.
Keeper Tomas Holy – at fault for at least one of the goals – made a late penalty save in a slow-paced second half but Matt Done did make it 3-0 late on.
Billy Bingham returned to the Gills team after three games out with concussion. He had Gillingham’s only shot on target in the 90 minutes.
The midfielder was the only change to the team that started last week’s game against Charlton, where the Gills emerged 1-0 after a battling display.
All of that positivity was undone at Rochdale.
The hosts made the brighter start and should have gone a goal up when Oliver Rathbone got in behind the defence. When his shot was blocked Bradden Inman fired over.
It was an even better chance that fell to Gillingham moments later and Bingham should have buried it. Put in on goal by Wilkinson, he fired over with just the keeper to beat.
Gills goalie Holy – the hero the week before against Charlton – failed to hold a shot and a free-kick midway through the half. Rochdale scored from both.
The opener came on 25 minutes when left-back Joseph Bunney broke from deep and bore down on the Gills goal, side stepping at least three defenders. When Holy couldn’t hold the shot, Ian Henderson was on hand to pounce.
A minute later and it was 2-0 as Holy failed to claim Steven Davies’ free-kick, allowing Rafferty to turn the loose ball home.
It got worse for the Gills just before the break. Eaves was already on a booking, as Rochdale’s close-attention led to frustration for the big striker. He took that out on Rafferty, leaving the Rochdale man on the deck, earning himself a straight red from referee Eddie Ilderton.
Eaves’ dismissal came as the Gills were already looking at their attacking options on the bench, as Conor Wilkinson limped towards the close of the half.
A double sub for the Gills saw Liam Nash and Josh Parker on at the break.
Holy was called upon early in the second half, making a close-range save to deny Henderson, after Parker had been disposed of the ball while trying to run clear.
Parker headed wide for Gills while Henderson had another chance for Rochdale, with an hour gone, bending it just past the post.
The Gills finally had a shot on target, with 64 minutes gone, when Bingham’s curling effort forced keeper Joshua Lillis into action. Bingham man took another free-kick from further out with seven minutes left but shot wide.
Rochdale eased through the second half, limiting the Gills to very little. Holy denied the hosts a goal from the spot, saving from Henderson after the Rochdale man had clearly been tripped in the box by Gabriel Zakuani.
A third goal did come in stoppage time when Done raced clear to slot home another.
Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, Bunney (Ntlhe 71mins), McNulty, McGahey, Camps, M Williams, Rathbone, Inman (Done 86mins), Henderon, Davies (Andrew 58mins). Subs not used: Moore, Slew, J Williams, Daniels.
Gillingham: Holy, O’Neill, Lacey, Zakuani, Nugent, Ehmer (Parker 46mins), Bingham, Byrne, Clare, Eaves, Wilkinson (Nash 46mins). Subs not used: Arnold, Hessenthaler, Oldaker, Ogilvie, Starkey.
Attendance: 2,793 (159 away)
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More by this authorLuke Cawdell