Gillingham 3 Doncaster Rovers 0: Sorry Rovers slump out of FA Cup
Doncaster Rovers were dumped out of the FA Cup second round in emphatic fashion as they crashed to defeat at the hands of fellow League One side Gillingham.
The visitors buckled against the Gills – under the stewardship of former Rotherham United boss Steve Evans – who were far too hot to handle on a frosty day in Kent.
Rovers waved the hosts through as a quickfire double inside the opening quarter of an hour put paid to any realistic hopes of progressing through to the third round of the competition for a third straight year.
And the impressive home striker Brandon Hanlan thumped home a third to rubber stamp Doncaster’s humiliating exit.
Rovers were on the back foot from the off. Referee Darren Handley inexplicably turned down valid home claims for a penalty when Mikael Mandron went down under the attentions of Brad Halliday.
The French frontman’s aerial presence would pay dividends for the hosts though moments later as he cushioned a header down in to the path of Mark Byrne for the opener on just eleven minutes.
The midfielder had bombed forward and hit a low drive through a crowd of bodies past a stranded Seny Dieng.
Four minutes later and the size of the visitor’s task was doubled.
Olly Lee was sent clear by Tom O’Connor’s neatly weighted through ball. Still adjusting to a change from a back four to a back three, the stretched defence couldn’t recover as Lee calmly lobbed Dieng.
The keeper who, despite getting a hint of a glove to the shot, was powerless to prevent it rolling home.
O’Connor spurned the chance to wrap the game up midway through the first half as he blasted wide of an open goal from a mere six yards out. It was to prove incidental to proceedings.
With Doncaster visibly rattled and their confidence in possession notably low, they did rally after the half hour mark.
Kieran Sadlier unleashed a rasping effort which, though it went wide, had home ‘keeper Jack Bonham scrambling. As did a Rakish Bingham diving header from ten yards.
Excellent link up play down the right hand side led to veteran James Coppinger delivering to the near post but Bingham couldn’t apply the finishing touch to go with his goal in the first round replay against AFC Wimbledon.
Rovers weren’t totally out of it at the interval when 2-0 down though curiously manager Darren Moore opted against making any changes when a change of personnel looked the only way of salvaging a lost cause.
Even the talismanic pairing of Coppinger and Ben Whiteman, who recently penned a contract extension, tried to spur Doncaster in to action with little avail.
Coppinger weaved his way in to a promising area before stinging the palms of Bonham but that was as threatening as Rovers got.
Alfie May and Kwame Thomas were sent on to try and make a telling impact on the encounter but within minutes Hanlan scorched past Joe Wright and smashed hard and low past Dieng at the near post sealing Rovers’ fate.
Gillingham: Bonham; Fuller (Hodson 90), Ehmer (c), Tucker, Ogilvie; Byrne, Jones, O’Connor, Lee; Mandron (Ndjoli 90), Hanlan (Willock 90). Subs not used: Charles-Cook, Marshall, Walsh, Jakubiak.Rovers: Dieng; Halliday, Wright, John, James; Sheaf, Whiteman; Sadlier (May 64), Coppinger, Gomes (Thomas 64); Bingham (Taylor 84). Subs not used: Lawlor, Amos, Blaney, Greaves.
Referee: Darren Handley (Lancashire)