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Rovers beaten 1-0 by Gillingham in League One relegation six-pointer

An uninspiring Doncaster Rovers side were defeated 0-1 at the Eco-Power Stadium by League One relegation rivals Gillingham.

Charlie Kelman’s header in the opening minute of the contest was enough to condemn Rovers to defeat, as they remain four points adrift of safety with only eight games remaining.

As for the Gills, this win means they now only remain in the bottom four on goal difference.

The visitors took the lead in the opening minute of the contest when Ryan Jackson’s long throw-in into the penalty area was allowed to bounce by the Donny defence before being headed into the back of the net by Kelman from close-range to give the Gills a flying start in South Yorkshire.

Olly Lee then delivered a dangerous free-kick from the right-hand side towards the hosts’ six-yard box which had to be put behind for a corner.

The Kent-based outfit then broke forward down the right-hand side and Jackson’s cross did pick out Vadaine Oliver but his header was blocked out by Ro-Shaun Williams.

Moments later, the away side threatened once again when another Jackson long throw found the head of Oliver but he was denied by Rovers’ goalkeeper Jordan Mitchell.

Jackson continued to cause trouble on the right-hand side for the Gills and he went on another promising run before having his attempt pushed away by Mitchell.

Gary McSheffery decided he had seen enough and decided to make a change with only 27 minutes played with midfielder Matt Smith coming on to replace left-back Ben Jackson.

The Gills went very close to scoring again when Lee’s left-footed strike from 25 yards out flew narrowly wide of the goal.

Ethan Galbraith then crossed in a dangerous ball from the right-hand side but it was cleared away from danger by the Gills’ back-line.

There was then a delay in the game for around a minute due to Jackson going down with an injury for the visitors and he was replaced by fellow full-back David Tutonda.

A headed clearance then fell to Oliver on right on the edge of the 18-yard box but his volley went harmlessly over the crossbar.

Martin’s flighted cross from the left-hand side was gathered by Gills’ keeper Pontus Dahlberg just before the referee blew the half-time whistle to confirm the away side went into the break a goal in front against a lacklustre Donny side.

Donny began the second period on the front foot and came forward on the right-hand side but Kyle Knoyle’s goal-bound shot was deflected wide for a corner.

Martin then delivered a deep out-swinging corner to the back post which was headed wide of the goal by Tommy Rowe.

The home side continued to come forward in search of an equaliser and Charlie Seaman’s cut the ball back onto his left foot but his weak shot was comfortably gathered by Dahlberg.

Rovers looked a completely different team in the early stages of the second-half and they went close to scoring again when Martin played in Rowe on the left-hand side of the penalty area but his driven effort had to be pushed out buy Dahlberg.

Martin then tried his luck from distance but the Norwich City loanee’s attempt was easily saved and held on to by the keeper.

There was a short delay in the game due to an injury to Rovers’ defender Joseph Olowu; however, after being assessed he was able to continue.  

Neil Harris’ men began to come alive in the second period and had a couple of threatening crosses cleared away from danger by the Roves’ defence.

With 20 minutes remaining, the hosts went close to finding a leveller but Galbraith’s right-footed effort from just outside the penalty area was only just off target.

Gills’ goal-scorer Kelman then went down with an injury and was eventually replaced by Josh Chambers.

Donny then made a double change with Jordy Hiwula and Aidan Barlow both coming on to replace Charlie Seaman and Joe Dodoo.

With only 10 minutes remaining, the home side increased their urgency in order to try and salvage something from the game and they went close with Rowe’s dangerous shot only just going wide.

Rovers went agonisingly close to snatching a point late on when Martin’s effort was denied by Dahlberg; however, the ball then almost deflected into the back his own net off Tutonda but it ended up going wide of the post.

Despite their best efforts, the hosts were unable to create any other chances of note as they slumped to their 25th and arguably most important loss of the season.

DONCASTER: Jonathan Mitchell (GK); Kyle Knoyle, Joseph Olowu, Ro-Shaun Williams, Ben Jackson (Matt Smith 27’); Tommy Rowe ©, Ethan Galbraith (90+7’), Charlie Seaman (Aidan Barlow 76’), Josh Martin; Joe Dodoo (Jordy Hiwula 76’), Mipo Odubeko. SUBS (not used): Louis Jones (GK), John Bostock, Dan Gardner, Kieran Agard.

GOALS: None.

GILLINGHAM: Pontus Dahlberg (GK); Jack Tucker, Max Ehmer, Conor Masterson, Ryan Jackson (David Tutonda 41’); Stuart O’Keefe ©, Olly Lee, Robbie McKenzie, Ben Thompson; Vadaine Oliver, Charlie Kelman (Josh Chambers 75’). SUBS (not used): Aaron Chapman (GK), Christian Maghoma, Harvey Lintott, Ben Reeves, Tom Dickson-Peters.

GOALS: Charlie Kelman (1’).

REFEREE: Anthony Backhouse.

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