Football: Rochdale 1 - 4 Gillingham
Date published: 20 December 2020
Smith Metals Stand
Rochdale’s inconsistent season continued with a heavy defeat at home to Gillingham in the last game before Christmas. The Gills raced into a 3-0 half-time lead thanks to goals from Rob McKenzie, John Akinde and Connor Ogilvie with Akinde netting his second of the game from the penalty spot two minutes into the second half after young midfielder Ethan Brierley tripped the big striker. Dale captain Eoghan O’Connell scored a thunderous stoppage time consolation, but Brian Barry-Murphy’s side were well beaten.
After the midweek demolition of Wigan, confidence was high heading into this game although injuries and suspension decimated the Rochdale starting line-up. With Gavin Bazunu, Ollie Rathbone, Ryan McLaughlin, Paul McShane and Jake Beesley already injured, Jimmy Ryan was added to that list after a hefty challenge in the midweek win over Wigan forced the midfielder off during that game. Matty Lund missed the game through suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season on Tuesday. 17-year-old Ethan Brierley was brought in to make his first start in a league game for Dale.
Dale started the game on the front foot and almost took the lead inside 90 seconds when a surging run from Stephen Humphrys saw the striker create space for a shot that flashed narrowly wide of the left hand upright.
That seemed to wake up the visitors who edged in front in the ninth minute. The powerful John Akinde burst into the area with his shot only parried by Jay Lynch right at the feet of Rob McKenzie who fired home from eight yards out.
Dale struggled to cope with Akinde and the former Bristol City striker doubled his side's advantage midway through the first half. A long throw on the right was flicked on to Akinde who took one touch to control and another to volley in from close range.
The game was over as a contest In first half stoppage time when Olgilvie unintentionally deflected a Scott Robinson shot into the net that wrong footed Lynch and made it 3-0 to Steve Evans’ side.
If Dale were to have any chance of getting anything from the game they would need an early goal after the break but the win was secured for Gillingham 90 seconds into the second half. Ethan Brierley was drawn into a challenge on Akinde with referee Ollie Yates showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot; with the striker firing the resultant spot kick into the roof of the net.
O’Connell scored a spectacular goal in stoppage time when he drilled a first time shot from 30 yards out but it was little consolation for the home side who have won just once in thirteen games at home.
Rochdale: Lynch, Keohane, O’Connell, McNulty, Roberts, Morley, Brierley (Bola 63), Dooley, Newby (Tavares 74), Baah (Done 63), Humphrys
Substitutes: (not used) Chalton, Bradley, Hoper, Dunne
Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, Ogilvie, Tucker, O’Connor, McKenzie, Robertson (Drysdale 89), Eccles (Willock 90), MacDonald, Dempsey ©, Akinde
Substitutes: (not used) Walsh, Oliver, Maghoma, Coyle, Woods
Referee: Mr O Yates
Assistants: Mr S Rushton & Mr G Hilton
Fourth Official: Mr J Bell
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