Football: Rochdale 2 - 2 Gillingham
Date published: 26 January 2020
Stephen Dooley scored a brilliant goal to earn Rochdale a point after coming from behind to draw 2-2. Dooley latched onto an Aaron Wilbraham flick on to rifle the ball past Jack Bonham to earn a well-deserved point. Ian Henderson had earlier given his side the lead from the penalty spot after Rhys Norrington-Davies was upended by the Gillingham goalkeeper, but the visitors turned the game around. Jordan Roberts netted his first league goals of the campaign either side of the break to edge the Gills in front, but it was Dooley who had the final say.
Brian-Barry-Murphy gave a debut to new loan signing Tyler Smith in the only change from the side that lost at Wycombe last time out. Oliver Rathbone and Aaron Morley returned from injury to take their places on the bench.
The opening exchanges were scrappy with neither goalkeeper called into action but when Jimmy Ryan set Norrington-Davies free, the on-loan Sheffield United fullback’s pace saw him reach the ball ahead of goalkeeper Jack Bonham who brought him down for a penalty. Leading goal scorer Ian Henderson stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way to make it 1-0.
The lead lasted less than four minutes as the visitors drew level through striker Jordan Roberts. The on loan Ipswich Town man powering home a header from Gillingham’s first corner of the game.
Chances were few and far between in the first half although Jimmy Keohane went close with a low shot on the stroke of half-time; his effort just wide of the left hand upright after good work from Norrington-Davies.
The second period was a little more open; Tyler Smith on his debut for Rochdale fired narrowly over with a good turn and shot.
Gillingham edged in front for the first time in the game once again through Roberts. Connor Ogilvie’s long throw was flicked on by John Akinde with the ball falling to Roberts who made no mistake firing through a crowd of players for his second of the game.
Having already brought on Ollie Rathbone, Brian Barry-Murphy threw on Aaron Wilbraham and Matty Done as they looked for a leveller and the decision paid off immediately. A free kick in the Rochdale right back position saw a long punt upfield flicked on by Wilbraham with his first touch with Dooley racing onto the loose ball before lashing in his third of the season.
The last 20 minutes were frantic as both sides looked for the winner. Dooley almost undid his good work in scoring the equaliser when he gave away the ball to Roberts in a dangerous area only for the striker to fluff his lines when on a hat-trick as he dragged his shot wide.
Rochdale had huge appeals for a penalty turned away by referee Paul Marsden when Wilbraham was pushed over as went up for a header; replays later clearly showing Ogilvie’s two-handed push in the back of the Dale substitute.
Luke Matheson was beaten in an aerial battle with Roberts with the Gills man coolly finding Brandon Hanlon inside the area. The striker looked to have a clean sight of goal until a block by Eoghan O’Connell saw the ball deflect behind for a corner.
As stoppage time approached the officials certainly felt the ire of the Dale faithful with more mystifying decisions. Gillingham substitute Mikael Mandron looked well offside when he found himself one-on-one with Jay Lynch, but the flag stayed down; thankfully the Rochdale stopper was equal to anything the Frenchman threw at him as he saved from close range.
Moments later Ian Henderson was tripped on the edge of the area when he was through on goal; again, Mr Marsden waving away the Dale protests for a free-kick.
Matty Done tried an audacious 45-yard shot after seeing Bonham off his line, unluckily for Done the ball was inches over the crossbar as the keeper scurried to get back in his goal.
In the end a draw was just about a fair result although Dale fans will look at some refereeing decisions late on that could have changed the game in their favour.
Rochdale: Lynch, Matheson, McShane, O’Connell, Norrington-Davies, Dooley, Ryan, MJ Williams (Done 67), Keohane (Rathbone 55), Smith (Wilbraham 67), Henderson ©
Substitutes: (not used) Lillis, McNulty, Morley, Tavares
Gillingham: Bonham, Fuller, Tucker, Ehmer ©, Ogilvie, Jones, Lee (Willock 85), O’Keefe, Roberts (Jakubiak 87), Akinde (Mandron 77), Hanlan
Substitutes: (not used) Walsh, Hodson, Charles-Cook, Pringle
Referee: Mr P Marsden
Assistants: Mr P Hobday & Mr O Bickle
Fourth Official: Mr D Benton
Attendance: 3,084 (264 from Gillingham)
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