Rochdale were forced to settle for a point on the road on Saturday, as Jimmy Keohane’s second half brace wasn’t enough to secure a victory against Gillingham, after the hosts netted in stoppage time to snatch a draw.
After going behind against the run of play late in the first half, Dale came from a goal down to take a 2-1 lead at the Priestfield Stadium but the home side’s John Akinde netted at the death to earn a share of the spoils.
Manager Brian Barry-Murphy was without several key players for the fixture - Stephen Humphrys missed out due to a hamstring problem, while Jake Beesley was not fit to start after he required stitches to a foot injury sustained during Tuesday night’s game against Doncaster Rovers. Meanwhile, Jay Lynch was self-isolating, so was unable to be involved. They joined Jim McNulty (suspended), Eoghan O’Connell, Paul McShane and Jimmy Ryan, who are all injured, on the sidelines.
But despite being depleted in numbers, Dale were not short of grit and determination throughout and their never say die attitude was on show once again in a battling performance.
Dale had been the better of the two sides during the first half, creating the best of the chances. With six minutes on the clock Rochdale tested first, when Ollie Rathbone forced Jack Bonham to tip a 20-yard strike over the bar, after Ryan McLaughlin had nicked the ball to play him in on goal.
Minutes later and Bonham was called into action again to deny Rathbone, this time from 35-yards.
Debutant Gabriel Osho, who joined the Club on loan from Luton Town on Thursday, then had a looping header from an Aaron Morley corner held, before Matt Lund has Dale’s best chance of the half. Unmarked, he met a Morley free-kick into the area but saw his header down into the ground bounce over the bar.
Kwadwo Baah then showed great feet to nutmeg his marker and drive into the area before firing over, while Alex Newby struck wide of the target soon after.
Rochdale had been on top, but it was the home side that broke the deadlock with two minutes of the half remaining. A corner was played short before being sent into the area where it fell kindly for Vadaine Oliver who fired into the roof of the new from close range.
HT | GILLINGHAM 1-0 ROCHDALE
After the break, Baah had a shot held by the goalkeeper five minutes into the second half, before Gillingham were denied a second thanks to a wonderful reaction save from Gavin Bazunu moments later.
The Rochdale goalkeeper kept out Connor Ogilvie’s point blank header from close range, after the Gills player had met a free-kick into the box.
Despite being a goal down, Dale very were much still in the match and they turned the game on its head with two goals in quick succession - Keohane on target on both occasions.
Rochdale equalised in the 69th minute with a well-worked goal. After Baah squared to Lund, he clipped the ball out to Keohane, who struck across goal from a tight angle and into the bottom corner.
Six minutes later, Dale were ahead.
Keohane, playing at left-back, waited just outside the area for a cut-back from Baah, before slamming home to put his side in front.
Rochdale’s first change of the game came in the 84th minute, when Harrison Hopper replaced Baah.
It looked like Dale were on course for a victory in Kent, however, Akine smashed home from close range in stoppage time to snatch a draw for the Gills.
FT | GILLINGHAM 2-2 ROCHDALE