Published: 16:00, 29 December 2019
| Updated: 10:26, 30 December 2019
Gillingham left it late to win on Sunday but manager Steve Evans never stopped believing they would.
His second half substitutions helped to make the difference and a goal from Connor Ogilvie with four minutes left clinched a deserved three points.
Evans said: “Certainly for 45 minutes and up towards the 60th it was a real stuffy game. Rochdale had obviously set up to get a point, they didn’t really want to go forward.
“They have some really good players, they won 1-0 at Rotherham a few weeks ago and those boys fight for Brian Barry-Murphy (the Rochdale boss). He is going to be a good young manager.
“He changed a couple of things in the game, and I really respect people that do things to affect it, but after 60 minutes we changed it tactically and I think from then I always believed we would win.
“I didn’t think it would be one, I think had we scored earlier it could have been more.
“We hit the post three times, we hit the bar, they had a couple off the line, we scuffed a couple.
“I don’t know why Olly Lee hasn’t had a penalty given for him, because he is going to have an attempt from goal from eight yards. The defender, to be fair, had no option but to take him out.
"When the referee waves play on you are thinking ‘here we go’ but Rochdale make a mistake and we capitalised.
“I think had we got a goal on 70 minutes we would have won by three of four. People might ask ‘was that the case?’ I would say watch the highlights.
“Brandon Hanlan stubbed his toe twice when it looked easier to score, but for the last half hour he has run them ragged and he has got assistance from the two substitutes.
“I thought Alex Jakubiak and Mark Marshall (the two subs introduced with an hour gone) made a good difference to us, they were full of energy and the boys were lifted. We changed the system and went to 4-2-4. With the Rainham End it’s like 4-2-5, they were fantastic.
“(I knew) the goal would come. There are very few teams can withstand three off the post, one off the bar and the goalie was fortunate with two ricochets from Olly Lee that could have gone anywhere but happened to go straight at him.
“Our players have stood up and delivered us three points. Everyone knew it should have been three points at Portman Road (against Ipswich Town on Boxing Day), but we said ‘let’s make that a good point by winning at home.’
“It was a great header (from Ogilvie to win it). I think there was a mistake but he only has one place to put it. If that game had finished zero-zero maybe even Brian at Rochdale might have felt for us a little bit.”
Rochdale finished with 10 men after MJ Williams was cautioned twice in stoppage-time, the first for a reckless challenge on Alex Jakubiak and then for a shove on matchwinner Ogilvie, as the two players square up.
Evans felt it should have been a straight red for the first incident.
He said: “The first challenge, that is just ‘get off the pitch’, that was terrible. It has no place in football and he then runs after Connor.
“It’s not like that boy, I think he just lost his head for a minute, but his challenge has no place in football, that finishes people that, the first challenge.”