A resilient Rochdale secured a valuable point on the road on Saturday, with a 1-1 draw against Gillingham.
Both goals came in the first half of the encounter at the Priestfield Stadium. Ian Henderson broke the deadlock with his 18th goal of the season in the 38th minute, before the Gills’ Mark Byrne levelled the scoring minutes later, deep in added time.
Stubborn Dale defended resolutely in the second half, to ensure a share of the spoils.
There was one change to the side that lined up against Scunthorpe United last weekend, as Josh Lillis returned from injury to replace Andy Lonergan who is now back at his parent club.
Before the goals went in, both teams had chances, with the hosts having the first opportunity of the game. Graham Burke should have done better from a squared Brandon Hanlan ball, but he could only strike over the bar.
Hendo sent Rochdale on the attack, after playing a great ball forward to Done, who in turn found Aaron Wilbraham. The veteran striker, who netted a brace last weekend, had an initial shot blocked, before hitting wide on the follow up.
Done dragged an effort past the post soon after, as Rochdale began to prove a real handful for the Gills, and they went on to open the scoring in the 38th minute. Skipper Henderson was left unmarked to slot home from six-yards, following a Bunney free-kick into the area which was touch on by Kgosi Ntlhe.
The hosts were denied by the woodwork five minutes later, when Byrne was kept out by the bar after clipping the ball over Lillis, who had come to close him down at the near post. And they home side ramped up the pressure in the final moments, levelling the scoring in stoppage time with Byrne powering a header beyond Lillis from an Eaves cross in from the left.
HT | GILLINGHAM 1-1 ROCHDALE
Gillingham started the second half brightly and had two opportunities during the first five minutes.
Hanlan struck into the side netting just a minute after the restart, while the unmarked Burke fired over the bar from six-yards a short time later.
After Da Silva Lopes was booked for a foul on Ntlhe before the hour, there was frantic five-minute spell that resulted in Wilbraham and Andrew also receiving a yellow card, with Andrew having replaced Wilbraham in the 63rd minute, immediately after the former Bolton Wanderers man was carded.
A second change followed ten minutes later, as Jimmy Keohane replaced goal scorer Henderson.
Before that, Rathbone had a powerful effort pushed away by Holy, while the goalkeeper also denied Done moments later, tipping his scuffed shot round the upright.
The final quarter of an hour belonged to Gillingham, as Dale rode wave after wave of Gills pressure.
The hosts, though, despite their dominance, had little to show for it in terms of chances created, as a resilient Rochdale stood firm.
They did, however, have claims for a penalty in the 80th minute turned down. There were cries that a shot had been handled on its way through to Lillis.
In a final change, Dooley replaced Rathbone in the 84th minute.
Just before the fourth official indicated six minutes of added time, Eaves flashed a volley wide of the target.
But it was Rochdale who had the last chance of the match right at the death. A Dale counter-attack saw Camps link up with Dooley, whose cross was held by Holy.
FT | GILLINGHAM 1-1 ROCHDALE