Gillingham 3-0 Doncaster Rovers
Gillingham 3-0 Doncaster Rovers

Goals from Mark Byrne, Olly Lee and Brandon Hanlon earned Gillingham comfortable passage into arguably the most famous Cup draw of them all – the Third Round of the Emirates FA Cup.

To be fair comfortable is about as fair an assessment of opponents Doncaster Rovers, who became the fourth visiting team on the bounce to fail to score at Priestfield as Steve Evans side won their fourth home game in a row – and the sides sixth in nine home matches – something at a canter against a side who just last season reached the last sixteen of the competition (losing in round five to Crystal Palace)

The Gills almost made the perfect start when Lee held off two defenders before sliding a shot just wide.  The returning Mikael Mandron then appeared to have been fouled attempting to reach a deep cross; Tom O’Connor then flashed a drive across the face of goal before the golden start was achieved.

Hanlan won possession from a throw in and as he was dispossessed the ball ran to Byrne who gleefully opened his seasons account drilling beyond Rovers keeper Seny Dieng into the bottom corner.

One soon became two as the Gills threatened to run riot as Lee lobbed the ball over the advancing Dieng – who was desperately unlucky to get his hand to the ball which almost apologetically drop under the visitors crossbar.

O’Connor then went close again as the home side dominated with Alfie Jones outstanding in his battle with Rovers danger man James Coppinger who can rarely in his 600 plus games for the Yorkshire side been as stifled as he was on the day.

Rakish Bingham’s diving header was the visitors only chance of any note but that flew wide as their first half was summed up in the closing stages of the half when the visitors enjoyed a three on one break only for Barry Fuller to clear.

Progress was sealed on the hour when Hanlon pounced on hesitation to a long through ball and from the acutest of angles drilled the ball past Deng, who possibly could have done better.

Doncaster went looking for a consolation that would have been scant at best, but substitute Kwayme Thomas sent a free header over, before Coppinger’s afternoon was summed up when he tamely shot straight at Jack Bonham having for once escaped Jones’ attentions.

Hanlan himself could have finished with a hat-trick but a late shot and header missed the target.  But by then the damage was well and truly done and Gillingham will take their place in that velvet bag on Monday night “winning through” to the third round for just the fourth time in the last twenty seasons. 

GILLINGHAM – Bonham, Fuller (Hodson 93), Ehmer, Tucker, Ogilvie, Lee, Jones, Byrne, O’Connor, Hanlon (Willock 91), Mandron (Ndjoli 92)

Subs – Walsh, Charles-Cook, Marshall, Jakubiak 

DONCASTER ROVERS – Dieng, Halliday, James, Wright, Sheaf, Sadlier (May 63), Whiteman, Bingham (Taylor 83), Gomes (Thomas 63), Coppinger, John

Subs – Lawlor, Amos, Greaves, 

REFEREE – Mr Handley

ASSISTANTS – Mr Cooper & Mr Laver


picture supplied by Gillingham Football Club