ACE JOHN ON MARQ AGAIN!

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Nick Bull

GILLING­HAM manager Justin Ed­in­burgh ad­mit­ted the con­di­tions were the win­ner in this gritty draw be­tween two play-off hope­fuls.

Rovers sub­sti­tute Harry For­rester opened the scor­ing with a 40-yard free kick be­fore in-form striker John Mar­quis lev­elled for the Gills a minute be­fore the break.

Both goals owed much to the strong wind in­side the Pri­est­field Sta­dium, and a tired pitch also con­trib­uted to the game’s scrappy na­ture.

“I think both teams will say a draw was a fair re­sult,” said Ed­in­burgh.

“Our per­for­mance was gritty and determined but we were not very flu­ent with the ball.

“Both teams were try­ing to play foot­ball, but it was a dif­fi­cult pitch to play on.

“There was a strong, swirling wind and that played its part, too.

“It wasn’t a spec­ta­cle, but all points are valu­able.”

Cody McDon­ald headed at Rovers goal­keeper Stephen By­wa­ter and Bradley Dack’s volleyed lob was bril­liantly cleared off the line by de­fender Andy But­ler as the hosts had the best chances early on.

How­ever, six min­utes af­ter com­ing onto the pitch, For­rester put Rovers ahead with a free-kick taken in a what seemed like an in­nocu­ous po­si­tion near to the half­way line.

Picked up by the wind, the ball trav­elled over Gilling­ham goal­keeper Stu­art Nel­son and into the net.

“It was a bit of a freak goal,” added Ed­in­burgh.

“I don’t think peo­ple who were not here will quite un­der­stand how windy it was to­day.

“On any other day, the ball prob­a­bly would have just reached the goal.”

On-loan from Mill­wall, Mar­quis scored his sev­enth goal in ten games to level the game be­fore half time, as he latched on to a Doug Loft’s free-kick that also hung in the wind to get there in front of, and head past the pow­er­less By­wa­ter. The Rovers goal­keeper pro­duced a bril­liant save to deny Mar­quis from close range on 52 min­utes, and John Egan headed over from close range for the hosts.

For­rester had the vis­i­tors’ best chance for a win­ner late on, but his half vol­ley was pushed wide by Nel­son af­ter a pow­er­ful charge through the Gilling­ham de­fence.

“We’ve picked up a point play­ing nowhere near as good we have re­cently, against a team in form, so we’ll take that,” said Rovers manager Paul Dickov.

“It was a tough game to­day, and I was ex­pect­ing that, but I’m dis­ap­pointed with how we played be­cause we’re bet­ter than that.

“Too of­ten, pos­ses­sion wise, we picked the wrong pass or tried to over­com­pli­cate things.

“We want to be tested, we’ve put our­selves into a great po­si­tion and we’re still in the play-offs with 11 games left.

“A lot of teams will keep pick­ing points off each other, and if we can’t win games, we can­not lose them, and that’s what hap­pened to­day. We pos­si­bly would have lost that game ear­lier in the sea­son.”

PIC­TURES: Simon Roe/TGSPHOTO

STAR MAN HARRY FOR­RES

TER Donca

ster GET IN: Harry For­rester of Don­caster Rovers cel­e­brates the freak opener. Inset: Don­caster’s Curtis Main at­tacks an early ball into the box

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