Half-time: Bristol Rovers 0 Gillingham 2
Bristol Rovers must come from behind if manager John Ward is to avoid suffering what would be the first defeat of his tenure.
Chris Whelpdale opened the scoring for Gillingham after only three minutes at the Memorial Stadium this afternoon with a blistering shot from the left-hand corner of the penalty area to supply the perfect finish to a sweeping move by Martin Allen's side.
Rovers, however, did not capitulate following that early setback and proceeded to take the game to the League Two leaders for the remainder of an opening period – before Deon Burton doubled the advantage with two minutes of the half remaining.
The goal was simple in creation – a route one clearance from goalkeeper Stuart Nelson flicked into the path of Burton by Adam Birchall - despite the best attentions of Rovers' debutant Mark McChrystal.
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Burton, however, executed a neat touch to evade a Garry Kenneth challenge inside the penalty area before powerfully burying the ball into the back of the net past a helpless Mildehall.
Ward, meanwhile, had been unlucky not to see his side level the scores in the 18th minute when John-Joe O'Toole's side-footed effort from close-range hit the inside of a post before rolling away to safety after the midfielder connected cleanly with Tom Parkes' cross.
Ward had handed a debut to former Tranmere defender McChrystal in a side showing four changes to the one that secured a 2-1 victory over Plymouth on Tuesday.
McChrystal was thrown straight in at the heart of defence in place of Cian Bolger, who has returned to Leicester City, along with Kenneth, who returned from suspension only to leave the pitch with injury towards the end of the first-half.
Parkes moved back into a three-man midfield to compensate for the loss of Matthew Lund, who had returned to parent club Stoke City.
Seanan Clucas was preferred to Oliver Norburn, who drops down to the bench along with recent loan signing Tom Hitchcock.
He was replaced in attack by Joe Anyinsah, who switched from the right-hand side of midfield, whilst Eliot Richards started for the first time under Ward and was played out wide as the manager conyinued to deploy a 4-5-1 formation.
Rovers (4-5-1): Mildenhall; Smith, Kenneth, McChrystal, Brown; Richards, Clucas, Parkes, O'Toole, Broghammer; Anyinsah. Subs: Gough, Woodards, Norburn, Harrison, Harding, Hitchcock, Lockyer.
Gillingham (4-4-2): Nelson; Fish, Legge, Barrett, Martin; Whelpdale, Frampton, Payne, Weston; Burton, Birchall. Subs: Forecast, Lee, Kedwell, Jackman, Allen, Davies, Gregory.