Match report: Gillingham 1 Doncaster Rovers 0

Curtis Main fires straight at Stuart Nelson from a superb position
Curtis Main fires straight at Stuart Nelson from a superb position

A controversial goal from Jake Hessenthaler was enough to condemn Rovers to defeat at high-flying Gillingham.

Hessenthaler's second half strike was blocked in the goalmouth by Mitchell Lund only for the backtracking assistant referee to flag for a goal.

Cedric Evina gets in ahead of Ryan Jackson

Cedric Evina gets in ahead of Ryan Jackson

Despite starting the game firmly on the back foot, the defeat was harsh on Rovers who held their own and competed well against a side who have started the League One campaign in fine style.

Rovers were denied what appeared a clear cut penalty just after the break in one of three big calls from the match officials to go against them.

But they certainly had chances of their own to get something from the game with Curtis Main and substitute Cameron Stewart both guilty.

Gillingham started much the brighter and Rovers struggled to settle against a high intensity approach from the hosts. They were poor in possession and only increased the pressure on themselves.

It took more than ten minutes for Rovers to even break into opposition territory with Curtis Main charging clear only to dally on the ball and misplace his pass.

Gillingham went close on 16 minutes. A long throw from Ryan Jackson was only half cleared to Bradley Dack who saw his low shot deflect just wide.

The hosts enjoyed the better possession and greater threat but Rovers occasionally threatened on the break. Cedric Evina got forward well and created an opportunity, lofting the ball for Curtis Main who failed to get in ahead of Gills keeper Stuart Nelson.

Rovers were denied a golden opportunity when referee Chris Sarginson bizarrely blew his whistle as Andy Williams scarpered clear, only to pull back for a foul in Doncaster's favour.

Emmanuel Osadebe drew a simple stop from Stuckmann with a curling effort before Dack tested his alertness with a deft flick from a Josh Wright cross.

Rovers finished went on to finish the half the stronger.

A long goal kick from Stuckmann fell to Main 25 yards out and he drilled first time just wide.

Main really should have put Rovers in front four minutes from the break. Sent in one-on-one with Nelson on the angle, he went for power and blasted it straight at the Gillingham keeper.

Coppinger fired a tame left-footed strike which Nelson claimed at his near post while debutant Oscar Gobern drilled low from the edge of the box only to see the ball curl away into the side-netting.

Rovers had a huge shout for a penalty just after the break. Evina nipped the ball past Jackson and was tripped as he looked to round him. After an age, Sarginson waved play on.

Richard Chaplow should have done better when a scuffed cross from Mitchell Lund fell to him 15 yards out but he hooked wide.

Probably Rovers' best move of the game came a minute later. Chaplow allowed Aaron Taylor-Sinclair's low pass to run beyond him with Williams turning and shooting in one swift movement only for Nelson to save.

Gillingham knocked on the door a couple of times before taking the lead. Wright hit a low curling effort which Stuckmann touched wide while Osadebe fired straight at the keeper.

Controversy surrounded the opening goal for the hosts on 66 minutes. Stuckmann failed to claim a low cross with substitute Hessenthaler claiming the ball, peeling away and smashing a shot.

Lund looked to have done enough on the line to keep the ball out only for assistant referee Gavin Muge to flag for a goal.

Paul Dickov threw on Dany N'Guessan and Cameron Stewart in a bid to draw level and the latter fired a superb shot which Nelson struggled to hold.

Stuckmann kept out a long range shot from Luke Norris with a fine save at the foot of his post.

Rovers really should have been level on 83 minutes. Stewart appeared at the back post to meet a Coppinger cross but his first time side-footed strike flew high over the bar.

Time ticked away from Rovers with the hosts looking comfortable in their lead and they saw out the remaining minutes.

Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Ehmer, Loft, Garmston, Wright, Houghton (Hessenthaler 60), Osadebe, Dack, Norris (Donnelly 90), McDonald (Williamson 74). Subs not used: Morris, McGlashan, Dickenson, List.

Rovers: Stuckmann, Lund, MacKenzie, Butler, Taylor-Sinclair, Coppinger, Chaplow, Gobern, Evina (Stewart 70), Main (N'Guessan 70), Williams. Subs not used: Marosi, P McKay, Middleton, Whitehouse, Keegan.

Referee: Chris Sarginson (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 5,685 (234 away)