Richard Day reports from Princes Park

A scrambled 73rd minute effort from new signing Ben Strevens saw the Gills to victory over Blue Square Premier newcomers Dartford at Princes Park. 

Both teams played some nice football and put a lot into the game which both managers will probably see as a useful workout. 

The Gills used 22 players including new signings Charlie Allen, Stuart Nelson and goalscorer Strevens while trialists Dean Morgan, who played at Chesterfield and Oxford United (loan) last season, Damian Reeves, scorer of a lot of goals at Altrincham and former Northampton Town midfielder Ryan Gilligan also featured. 

There were a few familiar faces in the Darts line-up too with Tony Sinclair, Jacob Erskine, Donovan Simmonds and Jon Wallis all named in their squad. 

When the teams emerged onto the pitch the Gills were led out by Charlie Lee. 

Within just 13 seconds of the kick-off Morgan tested Louis Wells in the home goal with a curling  effort. 

After a spell of possession from the home side in a lively opening, the Gills had another great effort. A neat touch from Reeves sent Chris Whelpdale forward, he in turn found Morgan who cut inside from the left before sending a terrific curling right-foot shot towards the top corner of the net which Wells did brilliantly well in turning over the top. 

Morgan scuffed a shot at the keeper and Reeves slipped at an unfortunate time when through on the keeper. 

At the other end Lee Burns fired a long range strike straight at Nelson. 

In the 17th minute the Gills went close again, Whelpdale moved onto a ball forward but his first time strike with the outside of his right-foot dropped inches over the bar. 

Home fans, more than the players, saw penalty appeals turned down by referee Andy D'Urso when Danny Harris went down in the area. 

With 26 minutes on the clock Barry Fuller played a good ball in from the right but Reeves couldn't steer his header on target. 

A 33rd minute throw-in deep on the Gills right saw a chance created for Lee Burns but his shot flew wide of Nelson's left-hand post. Moments later James Rogers was also just off target with a curling shot. 

Tony Burman's side had the next chances too but Adam Green, shot deflected wide, and Elliot Bradbrook both failed to test Nelson.  

H/T: 0 - 0

The opening chance of the second-half saw Connor Essam, who spent a period on loan with Dartford last season, rise to meet Lee's right-wing corner but the young central defender was just off target with his header. 

Rogers glanced a header wide for the home side while at the other end Morgan and Danny Kedwell failed to take opportunities that came their way 

On the hour mark there was the strange sight of the entire Gills side being changed with a different eleven. 

Eight minutes later Adam Birchall fired a shot at Wells and the Gillingham manager was quick to point out to him that it was his first shot for a year! 

The Gills opened the scoring in the 73rd minute, Birchall crossed from the left, Matt Fish put a downward header goalwards which Wells parried but there was Strevens to scramble the ball home from close range.  

Wallis struck a free-kick over the top for the Darts before a free-kick from Daren Hawkes was flicked on by Danny Jackman for Birchall to run onto but the striker put his attempted lob over the top. 

In time added on Ryan Gilligan nodded the ball down for Birchall who was just off target with a speculative scissors-kick. 

Teams - 

Darts: Wells (Sutton 87), Burns (Muggeridge 72), Green (Porter 83), Bonner, Sinclair (Hayes H/T), Champion (Sawyer 87), Collier (Church H/T), Rogers (Monger 87), Erskine (Simmonds H/T), Bradbrook (Wallis 60), Harris (Daly H/T). 

Gills: Nelson, Fuller, Martin, Lee, Frampton, Essam, Whelpdale (Dack 36), Montrose, Kedwell, Reeves, Morgan. 

Subs: Hawkes, Fish, Evans, Hare, Davies, Payne, Allen, Gilligan, Jackman, Strevens, Birchall - all on for the above after 60 minutes 

Attendance: 1,049 

Officials - 

Referee: Andy D'Urso 
Assistants: Stuart Butler & Ian Fissenden 
Fourth Official: Mark Scott