Rotherham United maintained their impressive form away from home with a victory over Gillingham on Saturday afternoon aa a goal from Michael Smith and a Matt Crooks brace secured all three points in emphatic fashion at Priestfield Stadium.
The Millers had their first chance of the afternoon just three minutes into proceedings as Joe Mattock stole possession deep in the final third before firing in a low cross, but Chiedozie Ogbene was unable to divert his effort on target at full stretch.
Wet and windy conditions made the opening exchanges difficult for both teams as they battled the elements, but it was Rotherham who had an opportunity to open the scoring from the penalty spot as Richard Wood was fouled by Connor Ogilvie as he attempted to get on the end of a Ben Wiles corner.
Smith stepped up to take the spot kick, but Jack Bonham responded with an excellent save on 19 minutes. However, the Rotherham man was gifted another sighting of goal less than 60 seconds later as a weak pass back by Ogilvie forced Bonham to race out of his goal, but he was unable to get there ahead of Smith who rounded the ‘keeper to roll the ball home into an unguarded net.
Gillingham searched for a response after falling behind and Brandon Hanlan tried his luck on the turn inside the area after 24 minutes, but he could only find the side-netting with his strike. Tom O’Connor sent in a dangerous delivery from a set piece just moments later, only to watch it skid just beyond the reaches of Max Ehmer at the back post.
With the game heading to the halfway stage, it took a piece of magic to double the Millers’ advantage on 43 minutes as Crooks got the better of Bonham in spectacular style. The in-form midfielder expertly controlled a pass from Jamie Lindsay before curling one over the head of the goalkeeper and into the corner of the goal from 30 yards or more.
Following the restart, it was the Gills who started the brighter of the sides as they eyed an early strike to reduce the arrears, but they couldn’t find a way through an organised Rotherham rearguard. Michael Ihiekwe did well to cut out a low Regan Charles-Cook cross before Wood charged out to block a viscous strike from Alex Jakubiak.
Ehmer was the next to take aim for the hosts after a free-kick from O’Connor eventually landed at his feet on the hour mark, but his shot was deflected over via the fingertip of Daniel Iversen from a tight angle.
Up the other end, Rotherham almost profited from a swift counter-attack as Crooks found Joe Mattock down the left flank and he sent a cross into the feet of Smith. He opted to take a touch before teeing up Wiles who fancied his chances from 25 yards, but his strike skewed wide of the mark.
Iversen was then called into action as the game entered the final 10 minutes, but he was alert enough to get down and thwart Mark Byrne via an outstretched leg. Crooks then made Gillingham pay by making it 3-0 just two minutes from time, calmly slotting a finish into the bottom corner after a pass from Carlton Morris pass to top off an impressive display.
Gillingham: Bonham, O’Keefe, Ehmer ©, Ogilvie, Hanlan, Charles-Cook (Lee 67’), Jones, Byrne, Jakubiak (Ndjoli 67’), O’Connor, Tucker (Marshall 76’).
Unused: Royce, Hodson, Mandron, Pringle.
Rotherham United: Iversen, Jones, Wood ©, Ihiekwe, Mattock (Ladapo 88’), Ogbene (Olosunde 70’), Lindsay, Wiles, Clarke (Morris 45’), Crooks, Smith.
Unused: Price, Barlaser, Lamy, Hastie.
Attendance: 4,893 (352 Millers).