Steve Evans salutes ‘terrific’ Gillingham display in emphatic win over Rochdale



Posted Sunday, December 20, 2020 by PA

Steve Evans salutes ‘terrific’ Gillingham display in emphatic win over Rochdale

Steve Evans hailed Gillingham’s 4-1 demolition of Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena as one of their best performances of his reign.

Two goals from John Akinde and efforts from Rob McKenzie and Connor Ogilvie earned the visitors victory, with Eoghan O’Connell’s late consolation goal the only crumb of comfort for the home side on a day to forget for Brian Barry-Murphy’s men.

Dale had beaten Wigan 5-0 just four days earlier and manager Evans was delighted with his side’s dominant showing against a team he rates highly.

“It was one of the best performances from the team since I took charge here,” said Evans, who took over in summer 2019. “We put our faith in younger players and asked them to just go out and express themselves and I thought we did that all over the pitch. We were disappointed to concede at the end and not get the clean sheet, and we had four or five other chances – this could have been a right drubbing for Rochdale.

“The quality and the passing and the movement were terrific and this is a good Rochdale side. Teams beat them and they beat teams – but no one does that to them, and that’s credit to our players’ performance.

“Spotland is always a tough place to come, you have to earn the right to play here. We’ve seen them twice this season and they play some wonderful football, but I think even Brian will say we deserved it today – he did say at the end of the game that my team was brilliant on the day, we played that well.”

Stephen Humphrys went close for Dale in the opening exchanges, but once the Gills went ahead in the ninth minute they were always in control. The opener came when Akinde’s shot was parried by Jay Lynch and McKenzie pounced on the loose ball to score.

Akinde hooked home the second in the 19th minute, while Scott Robinson’s effort his Ogilvie and wrong-footed Lynch for a third after 45.

Akinde, brought down by Ethan Brierley, converted a spot-kick two minutes into the second half to make the points safe. O’Connell’s last-gasp strike did little to take the gloss off Gillingham’s polished display.

Dale boss Barry-Murphy said: “It was a difficult game for us. We had a lot of players missing, but we didn’t want to focus on that and it’s not an excuse for us, we just didn’t perform and physically we just didn’t match the intensity of the opponent and that’s always a disappointment for us.

“Their first goal changed everything. A lot of what we focus on is trying to remain calm and confident in the moments when goals go against us and the overall effect Gillingham’s goals had on us today was far too much for us and as such we didn’t display the clear identity we wanted to.”

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