GillsConnect News Desk

Dateline: SUNDAY 19 MARCH 2017


Steady falling rain as this match started and despite Ady Pennock’s urging that Gills should be starting fast in their games and imposing themselves, they were at best cautious as Rochdale went on the attack. Gills were forced back on the defensive for the first ten minutes as Rochdale, without a win in eleven games, continued to test a dodgy Gills unit that had conceded 62 goals this campaign.

Ten minutes in and Gills supporters can make that total 63 as Rochdale take the lead through a brilliant strike from Mendez-Laing (pictured below). He cut in from the right and cracked a great left-footed strike into the top left-hand corner of the net, giving Stuart Nelson absolutely no chance.

Josh Parker (17)

Rehman (red card 60)

Attendance: 2,582 (200+ Gillingham supporters)

Mendez-Laing (10)

Henderson (33)

Camps (40)

Vincenti (90)

Seventeen minutes and Josh Parker was into the action trying to put a cross through to Cody McDonald but the ball was hacked away for a throw-in. Mark Byrne received the ball from the throw and sent over a beautiful flighted cross met by Josh Parker (pictured above top) who’s header hit the post. Luckily for the persistent Parker the ball came straight back and Josh headed it into the top of the net beating Logan in the Dale goal.

At this stage Gills were on-fire as Zesh Rehman sends Cody McDonald away on the right and he cut inside to shoot hard and low but Logan managed a great save down at his near post.

Minutes later and Josh Parker sends Lee Martin in but Logan came out fast to clear at Martin’s feet. From the resulting corner taken by Bradley Dack Logan was forced to make another great save to tip the ball over for another corner that came to nothing.

Rochdale fought back and Ian Henderson powers a header that cannoned off the post, Gills inches away from going behind again and the ball was forced out for a corner. A minute later and Dale’s top striker Henderson forces Nelson to make a brilliant save with his finger tips to keep the scores level.

With 30 minutes gone Gills defence was beginning to creak under constant pressure and another Rochdale goal looked forthcoming. This goal did arrive when Mendez-Laing put Henderson through in the area with a neat header on 33 minutes. The very impressive Henderson (pictured below right) ran through a static Gills defensive unit and as Stuart Nelson advanced to stop the striker, the ball was chipped over his head into the net. On this first-half defensive showing it looks likely that more Rochdale goals will arrive before the final whistle.

Rochdale come forward once again and they won their seventh corner of the half - against Gills one - putting even more pressure on the Gills team who are playing like a bunch of individuals with no overall team concept whatsoever.

Right on the half-time break and Mendez-Laing ran through the entire Gills defence and it took a brilliant stop low down to his right by Stuart Nelson to keep Rochdale at two goals.

Dale had yet another chance right on the half-time whistle when Jamie Allen had an unchallenged  header at the far post that went just over the bar.

Half-Time: Rochdale 2 (Mendez-Laing, Henderson) v Gills 1 (Josh Parker)

It took Rochdale just four minutes into the second period to make it 3-1 as they broke very quickly following a tepid Gills attack and Mendez-Laing sped through an almost non-existent Gills defence.

Mark Byrne tried to hack at the flying Dale player but missed both the running Mendez-Laing and a certain red card from referee Haines. A final pass was threaded through to Camps who had the easiest of tap-ins from close-in. The Gills players were left looking rain-soaked and dejected. They were certainly not looking at each other for conceding another loose goal. Zesh Redman received a yellow for a particularly poor tackle in the aftermath of the goal attack that was to prove crucial.

There was a brief respite attack from Gills as Cody McDonald had a decent on-target effort from the edge of the penalty area that Logan saved. However, it was only a minor break from Rochdale pressure as Hendeson was clear through the defensive unit and hit a tremendous shot that forced a superb save from Stuart Nelson.

There was still 30 minutes remaining in this match but Gills are looking nowhere near managing to get anything for their efforts.

This then became an almost impossibility as they were reduced to ten players as Zesh Rehman (right) received his second yellow followed by a red for a very bad foul on Mendez-Laing.

Pennock looked on in despair but made two positive substitutions sending on Scott Wagstaff, who replaced Jake Hessenthaler, and young winger/striker Elliott List was also sent on replacing Josh Parker in the ten-man Gills formation.

The changes did not alter the steady progress of the Rochdale win in this game and Dale were still coming forward with ease creating chances at will against a very poor Gills outfit. Max Ehmer went into referee Haine’s book when taking a yellow for the team in crudely stopping Rochdale’s Camps who was running into a dangerous area.

A few half-hearted attempts by Gills as they made a couple of decent crosses that were either mis-directed by Cody McDonald or gobbled up by the Rochdale defence. Eight minutes from the end and Pennock made his third substitution sending on young Greg Cundle who replaced a tiring McDonald.

Rochdale substitute Peter Vincenti (left) rubbed

salt into the Gills wounds as he rounded Mitchell Dickenson in a race for the ball and then went around Stuart Nelson before tapping into the net for Dale’s fourth of the afternoon.

Final chance for Gills in this very disappointing performance was from a thirty yard drive, driven by Bradley Dack, that Logan had to save in the centre of his goal.

Gills starting line-up: Stuart Nelson, Max Ehmer, Jake Hessenthaler (Scott Wagstaff 62 minutes), Cody McDonald (Greg Cundle 82 minutes), Lee Martin, Josh Parker (Elliott List 65 minutes), Mitchell Dickenson, Bradley Dack, Ollie Muldoon, Zesh Rehman and Mark Byrne.

Unused substitutes: Tomas Holy, Emmanuel Osadebe, Joe Quigley and Noel Mbo.