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Match Reports

REPORT | Rovers 2 Gillingham 1

23 September 2023

Match Reports

REPORT | Rovers 2 Gillingham 1

23 September 2023

Ben Close’s stunning strike secured an excellent win for Rovers as they toppled league leaders Gillingham.

The midfielder gave Rovers an early lead before Gillingham levelled in first half stoppage time through Conor Masterson.

And Close produced the goods late in the game for the second straight weekend as he lashed home from 25 yards to make it back-to-back league wins.

It had been a keenly contested affair for the majority with little between the sides.

Grant McCann made two changes to the side that started the win at Forest Green Rovers seven days earlier with Louie Marsh and Ben Close coming into the starting XI.

Louis Jones was called into action early and produced a comfortable save to keep out a strike from Macauley Bonne, who pounced onto a loose pass.

Rovers should arguably have been ahead moments later when Louie Marsh sent Mo Faal in behind with a well-timed pass only for Gillingham keeper Jake Turner to make a smart save. Zain Westbrooke fired over the bar from 20 yards in the aftermath.

Rovers took the lead on 13 minutes. After being awarded free kick just inside the Gillingham box following a backpass, Zain Westbrooke touched the ball to Close who lashed a low effort in at the near post.

Gillingham grew into the game after falling behind and it took a timely block from Tom Anderson to keep out a goalbound effort from Connor Mahoney.

And Jones batted the ball onto the crossbar as Shaun Williams powered a header on goal.

Harrison Biggins drew a good save from Turner at the end of a fine one-touch passing move from Rovers while Jones held a looping volley from Scott Malone from the edge of the box.

Jones produced another good save moments later as he scooped away a low drive from Bonne.

Gillingham found the equaliser in first half stoppage time when Masterson raced into space to head home a corner.

Play in the early stages of the second half was sloppy from both sides, with chances few and far between until Bonne fired over the bar from ten yards. Masterson lashed over a volley from a tight angle.

Rovers grew into the half and were much more threatening after the midpoint.

Shadrach Ogie was forced to intervene as substitute George Broadbent fired on goal before Owen Bailey drew a fine save from Turner with a planted header.

The Gillingham keeper produced an event better stop moments later when he pushed away a curling snapshot from Close.

There was no stopping Close on 87 minutes however. He collected the ball 25 yards out, set himself and lashed into the top corner.

Gillingham piled on the pressure in stoppage time, with Jones called upon to produce a fine reaction save from a low drive to make sure of the win.

Rovers: Jones, Olowu, Anderson, Bailey, Nixon, Biggins (Broadbent 64), Close, Westbrooke, Molyneux, Marsh (Faulkner 90), Faal (Ironside 64). Subs not used: Bottomley, Sotona, Roberts, Goodman.


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