Saturday 5th September, 3pm
Gillingham 1 (Hessenthaler, 66)
Priestfield Stadium, Gillingham
Sky Bet League One
On an overcast day in Kent in front of 234 travelling fans, Rovers defended an attacking Gillingham side for well over the first 45 minutes before going down 1-0 to a controversial Gillingham goal from home substitute Jake Hessenthaler.
The initial pressure came from the Gills with efforts from Bradley Dack, Emmanuel Osadebe and Josh Wright firing powerful shots at Thorsten Stuckmann’s goal. It was the fans behind the goal that were more in danger than the back of the net though as the first 15 minutes remained fairly uneventful.
Rovers had a shout for a penalty on 15 minutes as Aaron Taylor-Sinclair played a free kick deep into the box. As Andy Williams jumped he seemed to be pushed in the back but the Rovers shouts fell on deaf ears as referee Sargison waved play on.
Dack tried desperately to break the deadlock but his handful of efforts failed to test Stuckmann in the Rovers goal.
Richard Chaplow worked the midfield well and on 19 minutes his clever ball through to Cedric Evina nearly saw Rovers take the lead but Evina’s shot come cross couldn’t find Curtis Main and the scores remained level.
Evina, Taylor-Sinclair and Williams played some brilliant stuff down the left and Rovers had another shout for a penalty turned down after Taylor-Sinclair was felled.
Williams and Main linked up well playing some neat one-touch stuff throughout the first half but the sides went in even. The final effort of the half went to Oscar Gobern on his Rovers debut but the big man fired wide under pressure from 10 yards.
Half time: Gillingham 0-0 Doncaster
As was the case in the first half, the hosts started stronger but Rovers could’ve had a penalty on 53 minutes when Main was bundled in the box and it seemed it was just the referee who thought nothing of it.
Mitchell Lund linked up well with Chaplow on 58 minutes, but the midfield man couldn’t get his shot away clearly and he pulled it just wide of the post.
A minute later the ball fell to Williams who turned and shot but his left footed effort couldn’t beat the outstretched arms of opposing ‘keeper Stuart Nelson.
Wright’s shot on the hour mark left Stuckmann scrambling across his goal but Rovers defended another corner well and the score remained 0-0.
Six minutes after coming on for Houghton, Jake Hessenthaler gave the hosts the lead (66) in somewhat controversial circumstances. In what was a huge goalmouth scramble after a long range effort from the substitute, the assistant referee waved his flag and gave a goal. The Rovers players couldn’t believe it especially Andy Butler as he claimed Lund had cleared the ball off the line not once but twice.
Rovers pushed for the equaliser but couldn’t find a way past Nelson who was given the sponsors man of the match award!
Sub Cameron Stewart had a great effort saved as he collected the ball and ran his way through the middle of the park. He fired his shot from 25 yards worked Nelson but not quite enough.
Stuckmann again pulled off some good saves including one at full stretch from Luke Norris on 80 minutes and Lund linked up well with Stewart following a spectacular 40 yard pass. The substitute stretching as his effort went over the Gillingham bar.
The equaliser proved elusive the home side rose to the top of the league with the 3 points.
Full time: Gillingham 1-0 Doncaster
Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Ehmer, Loft ©, Garmston, Wright, Osadabe, Houghton (Hessenthaler, 60), Dack, MacDonald (Williamson, 60), Norris (Donnelly, 90+2)
Doncaster: Stuckmann, Lund, Taylor-Sinclair, Butler, MacKenzie, Evina (Stewart, 70), Coppinger (C), Gobern, Chaplow, Main (N’Guessan, 70), Williams.