Dale starting to
ROCHDALE enjoyed a 3-0 victory against Gillingham at the Crown Oil Arena to make it back to back home victories in the league.
Their first half display was as close as they’ve come this season to emulating their best form of last season. Two goals to the good by the break and with the Gills down to ten men having lost Tom Eaves for a nasty elbow on Joe Rafferty, it looked like being a canter for Keith Hill’s men.
It was never uncomfortable – but with the third goal not arriving until time added on, Dale were never quite in cruise control.
They were superior to the visitors from the off. Olly Rathbone’s corner towards the near post was met by Joe Bunney, the fullback’s run from deep untracked and allowing him a free header. The angle was tight, however, and his effort flew over the target.
In the tenth minute, a deflected Rathbone effort fell invitingly for Brad Inman but his first-time volleyed effort was too high to trouble Tomas Holy in the Gills goal. It was one of several opportunities for Inman on a day when his approach play was highly impressive.
The home side kept up the pressure and within two minutes Callum Camps’ floated centre picked out Henderson, who managed to generate enough power on the header to force a twohanded, diving save out of Holy.
Gillingham had a great chance to edge ahead in the 18th minute when Bunney missed a chance to win the ball in the centre circle and Conor Wilkinson broke forward before feeding Billy Bingham, galloping clear to his left. Bingham had Lillis to beat but failed to work the goalkeeper as he blazed wastefully over the top.
Inman side-footed wide from the apex of the penalty area when teed up by Bunney but the breakthrough arrived in the 24th minute, and while Henderson’s name will go down in the records as scorer, the goal was down to a brilliant run from Bunney.
Collecting Davies’ crossfield pass he dribbled round three Gills challenges on his way forward before sending a low drive towards the bottom corner of Holy’s net. The goalkeeper leapt across to successfully keep out the shot, but could only parry into Henderson’s path for a simple close-range finish.
The second goal followed within two minutes. Davies’ free-kick from the right saw Henderson challenge Holy, the goalkeeper spilling the ball for Rafferty to send a diving header into empty net.
Gillingham’s task became all the more diffcult when, in the 44th minute, striker Eaves was dismissed for an elbow on Rafferty. Eaves had been living on borrowed time since being booked for a foul on Harrison McGahey, against whom he’d lost an intriguing physical battle throughout the first half. Eaves’ growing frustration spilled over with his illegal challenged on Rafferty, for which he received a straight red card from referee Eddie Ilderton.
Inman had two efforts
‘Everyone expects you to be winning 5-0 but there is still a lot of life in the opposition’
blocked before the interval, one by Holy and another, a header, crashed against Gills defender Ben Nugent on its way to goal.
Inman brilliantly set up Henderson in the opening exchanges of the second
Keith Hill was pleased with much of the performance against Gillingham