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Rochdale v Gillingham (Crown Oil Arena, Saturday 3pm)

By KentOnline reporter

Team news;

Gillingham midfielder Dean Parrett starts against Rochdale
Gillingham midfielder Dean Parrett starts against Rochdale

Gillingham boss Steve Lovell has made three changes to his starting line-up for their game at Rochdale.

Dean Parrett has come in for his first start since early August, after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Luke O’Neill is also a starter, playing as part of a three-man attack, while Josh Parker comes straight back into the XI to play upfront.

O'Neill and Parker are expected to be playing either side of striker Tom Eaves in a 433/451 formation.

Josh Rees, Conor Wilkinson and Brandon Hanlan are relegated to the bench.

Gabriel Zakuani has failed to make the squad, having missed training this week through injury.

Gillingham: Holy, Fuller, Garmston, Lacey, Ehmer, Reilly, Parrett, Byrne, O’Neill, Parker, Eaves.

Subs not used: Hadler, Ogilvie, Hanlan, Wilkinson, List, Nasseri, Rees.

Preview;

Gillingham received a verbal rocket from boss Steve Lovell last weekend and now it's their opportunity to answer back.

They take on a Rochdale team who have had little to celebrate at home, their only success coming in the Checkatrade Trophy. In the league, it’s been three defeats from three.

Both sides will be eager to put right some wrongs this weekend when they meet at the Crown Oil Arena.

Steve Lovell on the touchline at Rochdale last year Picture: Barry Goodwin
Steve Lovell on the touchline at Rochdale last year Picture: Barry Goodwin

Gillingham fans will certainly be hoping for a better showing from their team than their last visit to Rochdale, a game they lost 3-0. It was a result which ended the reign of former boss Ady Pennock.

The Gills are certainly due some joy at Rochdale, losing 4-1 at Spotland in March 2017.

Head to head;

Gills wins: 15 Draws: 16 Rochdale wins: 15

League form;

Gillingham (LLDLLW): Wimbledon (h) 0-1, Barnsley (a) 1-2, Coventry (h) 1-1, Sunderland (h) 1-4, Walsall (a) 1-2, Burton (h) 3-1.

Rochdale (DWLLDL): Scunthorpe (a) 3-3, Coventry (a) 1-0, Walsall (h) 1-2, Barnsley (h) 0-4. Fleetwood (a) 2-2, Peterborough (h) 1-4.

Last time out;

Gillingham 0 AFC Wimbledon 1

Gills striker Tom Eaves challenges Wimbledon's Rod McDonald. Picture: Ady Kerry
Gills striker Tom Eaves challenges Wimbledon's Rod McDonald. Picture: Ady Kerry

Gillingham’s run without a league win was stretched to five games last Saturday.

Wimbledon striker James Hanson went closest to opening the scoring during a disappointing opening half for the Gills.

Joe Pigott put the visitors ahead early in the second, a goal which turned out to be the winner, as the Gills struggled throughout.

Reaction: Gills boss blasts team after defeat to Wimbledon.

Click here to see more of Ady Kerry’s pictures from the weekend.

Last meeting at Spotland;

Rochdale 3 Gillingham 0

Tom Eaves is shown a red card during Gills' last visit to Rochdale Picture: Barry Goodwin
Tom Eaves is shown a red card during Gills' last visit to Rochdale Picture: Barry Goodwin

Ady Pennock was sacked shortly after the 3-0 defeat at Rochdale a year ago.

The Gills made the trip off the back of a 1-0 win home over Charlton but turned in a lousy display on their travels, costing Pennock his job.

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 first 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.

Team news;

Illness may have scuppered Gabriel Zakuani’s hopes of forcing his way back into the starting eleven this weekend.

The Gills captain is returning to fitness following a shoulder injury but suffered a further setback after missing training early on in the week.

Gabriel Zakuani in action for Gillingham against Barnsley Picture: Ady Kerry
Gabriel Zakuani in action for Gillingham against Barnsley Picture: Ady Kerry

Midfielder Dean Parrett is expected to travel to Rochdale, returning to training this week after suffering a hamstring injury over a month ago, but the game comes too soon for fellow midfielders Regan Charles-Cook (hamstring) and Billy Bingham (thigh).

Josh Parker is back available after returning from international duty.

Read more from Gills boss Steve Lovell here

More on the Gills;

It's turn up time - Gills boss Steve Lovell looks ahead to the weekend fixture

Ready for action - Dean Parrett is hoping to be part of Saturday's squad

The Shouting Men - GPS James is keeping Gills on track

Elliott List on the ball for Gills at Welling Picture: Keith Gillard
Elliott List on the ball for Gills at Welling Picture: Keith Gillard

List was untouchable - Gills coach reacts to the Kent Senior Cup win at Welling

Midweek report - Young Gills team see off Welling United

From the opposition;

Rochdale manager Keith Hill watches his side stage a comeback last weekend Picture: Andy Jones
Rochdale manager Keith Hill watches his side stage a comeback last weekend Picture: Andy Jones

A tremendous fightback earned Dale a point on their visit to Scunthorpe last weekend.

United were 3-1 up with over an hour played but goals from Oliver Rathbone and Matty Gillam levelled it up, for a share of the spoils.

Rathbone netted twice in the 3-3 draw and he spoke of the mixed emotions on the day, having given away some soft goals before their comeback.

He said: “It’s all individual errors and we all know that - it’s nothing that the backroom staff could have done. It was frustrating but we recovered from that and came together to give a really good performance in the second half.

“Everyone to a man was on job and winning battles and I thought that on another day we’d score more goals, so I think we’re disappointed with just a point. It’s down to us to start games like that.

“After a performance like that, we’d maybe want a Tuesday game. I feel like there’s a bit of momentum with the squad – that’s three games unbeaten.

“We’ll have a good week in training, working on the issues that have seen us not winning games and then we’ll go into Saturday and hopefully get the win.

“We seem to have fixed the away problem now and we just need to get back to winning games at home and I think we’ll have a very successful season.”

One to watch - Ian Henderson;

Stuart Nelson is unable to stop the second Rochdale goal, scored by Ian Henderson, when the sides met in March 2017. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Stuart Nelson is unable to stop the second Rochdale goal, scored by Ian Henderson, when the sides met in March 2017. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Henderson’s goal were crucial in keeping Rochdale up last season, hitting the net 20 times.

It was one more than the 19 he got the year before and he may have got more had he not missed a handful of games through suspension after being sent off twice last season.

The 33-year-old Dale captain certainly knows where the goal is and has scored in each of Gills’ last two visits to Spotland.

He’s bagged over 100 league goals since returning to England in 2010 following a brief spell playing in Turkey.

Henderson scored from the penalty spot in Dale's 4-1 home defeat to Peterborough and netted both goals in their 2-2 draw at Fleetwood.

Tickets;

Fans can pay on the day at Rochdale with no increase in ticket price. Adults are charged £22, it's £16 for concessions (65 and over or 21 and under) and £5 for those aged 16 and under.

Official coach travel costs £33 adult and £27 juniors, departing Priestfield at 7.30am. Contact the club for more details.

Travelling fans at Rochdale Picture: Barry Goodwin
Travelling fans at Rochdale Picture: Barry Goodwin

Fancy a punt?

Rochdale are the 10/11 favourites with William Hill, pricing the Gills at 29/10 to take all three points. It's 13/5 for the draw.

Josh Parker is back from international duty and itching to getting back on track, having scored on his last appearance. He is 5/2 to score anytime.

Gillingham have struggled for goals recently and it's 11/5 for a Rochdale win to nil.

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