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Match Reports

Report: Dale 3-0 Gillingham

23 September 2017

Two goals in two first half minutes set Dale on their way to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Gillingham at the Crown Oil Arena.

Ian Henderson broke the deadlock, pouncing on a rebound after Joe Bunney’s effort had been palmed away.

Joe Rafferty doubled the lead just two minutes later with a close range header which fell to him from the Gillingham goalkeeeper’s fumble.

Tom Eaves was given a straight red for the visitors just before the break for a foul on Rafferty, and Dale were always comfortable throughout the second half.

Henderson saw a penalty saved in the final four minutes, but Matty Done added a third in stoppage time after a run from the halfway line and cool finish.

Keith Hill made four changes from the midweek Checkatrade Trophy win over Bury. Josh Lillis, Jimmy McNulty, Ollie Rathbone and Steven Davies all returned to the starting line-up.

The first chance of the game fell Dale’s way, when Joe Bunney headed over a Rathbone corner at the near post inside the opening two minutes.

Rathbone was involved again ten minutes later, when his low cross from the right was cleared as far as Bradden Inman, whose half volley just flew over the crossbar.

Henderson forced Tomas Holy into his first save, when he headed Callum Camps’ cross goalwards, only for the goalkeeper to turn the effort around the post.

Gillingham’s best chance of the first half fell to Billy Bingham. He was free on the left and drove at goal, one-on-one with Josh Lillis, but fired well over.

Inman, who had scored three in two games coming into the match, fired wide after being played through by Joe Bunney, and five minutes later it was Bunney who created Dale’s opening goal.

He ran through the Gills’ midfield before seeing his right foot shot from the edge parried by Holy, allowing Henderson to pounce and break the deadlock.

The lead was doubled two minutes later, through an unexpected source in Rafferty. Steven Davies’ free-kick was fumbled by Holy, straight into the path of the right-back, who nodded over the line from close range.

Bunney forced Holy into a low save just after the half hour mark, after striking first time from Davies lay off, but the Gillingham stopper held on well.

The visitors were reduced to ten men just before the break, when Eaves saw red for a foul on Rafferty. The striker had already been booked, but referee Eddie Ilderton produced a straight red for the foul which saw Rafferty flattened.

Henderson had the first chance of the second half, but was denied well by Holy. A free-kick from Bunney was cleared as far as Inman on the edge of the box, whose clever ball found the Dale skipper, only to see his effort denied by the Gillingham stopper.

Calvin Andrew replaced Davies just before the half hour mark, shortly before Henderson curled an effort wide from the edge of the area.

Bingham forced Lillis into a rare bit of action, his free-kick curling towards the top corner before the Dale goalkeeper flew to his left to pluck the ball out of mid-air.

MJ Williams fired a shot from distance well wide, two minutes before Kgosi Ntlhe replaced Bunney at left-back.

Matty Done replaced Inman with Dale’s final change inside the last four minutes, which saw Dale miss a golden opportunity to add to their tally with a third.

Henderson was brought down inside the area after bundling his way through, and he stepped up to take the penalty, which was saved by Holy to his right. The rebound fell to Henderson, whose header flew well over the crossbar.

Ben Nugent shot wide for the visitors in added time, shortly before substitute Done rounded off the scoring with a cool finish.

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