ACE JOHN ON MARQ AGAIN!
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.”
STAR MAN HARRY FORRES
ster GET IN: Harry Forrester of Doncaster Rovers celebrates the freak opener. Inset: Doncaster’s Curtis Main attacks an early ball into the box