Richard Day reports from yesterday's development friendlyOnly an inspired performance from visiting keeper Jordan Seabright prevented the Gills winning Tuesday’s development friendly at Beechings Cross by a greater margin.
The 18-year-old made a number of fine saves throughout but two that he made in the first-half to deny Adam Birchall were not far short of sensational. Inside the first minute he flew to his right to keep out a fierce strike and later pulled off a spectacular one-handed effort.
As it was, despite dominating and playing some decent football, the Gills had to come from a goal down to record their victory thanks to goals from Jake Hall, Charlie Allen and Kane Haysman.
Mark Patterson’s side started brightly and following Birchall’s early effort, the striker saw another shot deflected wide while Jake Hessenthaler saw his attempt turned aside by Seabright.
Trialist Jake Hall saw a shot blocked and the lively Nathan Nyafli was unable to turn and get a shot in after Birchall had nodded down Allen’s ball in.
The Daggers, with at least seven players having first-team run-outs this season in their starting XI, had hardly threatened, Ricardo Santos and Gavin Hoyte both failing to hit the target, but it was John Still’s team that opened the scoring in the 20th minute.
Daren Hawkes did well to keep out a low shot from Brian Woodall but the centre-forward was able to nod home the rebound from close range.
The Gills continued to create chances, after Birchall saw the former AFC Bournemouth keeper pull off his superb one-hander, Seabright then kept out Connor Essam’s downward header and got out quickly to bravely block at the feet of Nyafli.
Josh Hare then drilled a low strike wide before Gillingham deservedly pulled one back in the final minute of the first-half when Hall collected a pass around 20-yards out and calmly curled home an effort over the keeper.
Josh Payne cracked a low shot across the face of goal before Charlie Lee, a half-time substitute for Hall, broke forward to crack a shot over at the other end.
Hare and Birchall fired wide and Nyafli struck the junction of bar and post with a shot before the Gills went in front. ‘Birch’ was played through the middle and although Seabright was out quickly to block once again, the ball ran loose to Allen who calmly controlled and deftly chipped into the empty net.
An ‘inspired’ substitution by Patto ten minutes from time paid instant dividends when the Gills added a third. Hessenthaler crossed from the right, Lee hooked the ball back across the box and there was substitute Kane Haysman, who had only been on a matter of seconds, to nod home.
Fellow sub George Humber twice went close in the closing stages before the Daggers pulled one back with the last kick of the game as Josh Payne ran through to slot home under the advancing Hawkes.
Gills – Hawkes, Evans (Romeo 80), Parter (Carter 70), Hare, Essam, McKain, Hessenthaler, Hall (Lee H/T), Birchall (Humber 70), Allen, Nyafli (Haysman 80) Unused sub: O’Neill