Bradley Dack hits treble in home victoryA Bradley Dack hat-trick helped the Gills XI to a 3-1 victory over Dagenham & Redbridge side at a sunny MEMS Priestfield Stadium this afternoon.
Martin Allen’s philosophy of ‘any player can play in any position’ came into fruition throughout the 90 minutes with a number of the younger players filling unusual roles.
First-team squad members Tommy Forecast, Callum Davies, Steve Gregory, Adam Birchall and newcomers Ryan Williams and Michael Richardson plus the aforementioned Dack all got 65 minutes of playing time under their belts.
It was Dagenham, who included ex-Gill Kevin Maher in a reasonably strong line-up, that settled quickly and Forecast was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the opening stages. He was forced to punch clear one low dangerous cross before blocking a close range effort from Jake Reed.
The Gills first effort came in the 11th minute from Williams but he was slipping as he fired a 20-yarder wide of the target.
Shortly afterwards Alfie Coates curled in a great cross from the left which Williams was just unable to get a touch to after ghosting in unmarked.
With sixteen minutes gone it was the visitors that went close once again, a cross from left-back Tyrone Sterling was met by a back-tracking Gregory, captaining the Gills, and he was thankful to see a powerful header crash against his own crossbar and back to safety.
In the 23rd minute the Gills went ahead, Mahlon Romeo found Birchall down the right, the striker crossed and Richardson nodded the ball down for Dack to finish with some aplomb from twenty yards.
Two minutes later the lead was doubled, Birchall won possession and played the ball across the area, Williams allowed the ball to run for Dack to stroke the ball wide of the keeper.
Almost immediately, in the next attack, Birchall himself was denied when his shot was turned aside by Matthew Allick.
Birchall also had the next chance, firing over the top, after an initial great ball forward from substitute Aaron Millbank, playing in an unfamiliar right-back role.
As the East Londoners looked to get back in the game Billy Bingham shot wide, Jake Reed put a near-post header wide from a right-wing corner, Brian Woodall saw a thumping strike deflected wide before heading over the resultant corner.
Right on half-time the visitors pulled one back through Reed who stroked the ball past an exposed Forecast from close range. This came just seconds after Davies had hooked clear a goalbound effort from the Daggers striker.
H/T: 2 - 1
Seven minutes into the second-half Birchall instigated the next attack with a neat touch and break forward, unfortunately when Dack touched the ball back to him, the Gills forward failed to keep his shot down.
On the hour the Gills made it 3-1 with Dack completing his hat-trick with a simple tap-in. Gregory started the move finding Coates down the left, his cross was met by Richardson who was unlucky to see his header strike the post but it fell perfectly for the Gills midfielder to complete his treble from close range.
In the 65th minute the Gills made seven changes with those remaining on all swapping positions, Coates moved into midfield, Millbank to centre-half and Webster to left-back.
New keeper Luke Nalder was quickly in action saving twice from the Daggers Italian striker Gianluca Gracco before Maher put a shot high onto the Town End. Their next effort saw Louis Dennis curling an effort straight at the Gills keeper.
Further substitutions saw Joe Carter and Alfie Grant getting late run-outs and the last chance of the game fell to Stephen Butcher, playing in midfield, who fired a decent shot from around 20-yards narrowly wide.
Gills – Forecast (Nalder 65), Romeo (Millbank 32), Coates (Carter 80), Staunton (Freiter 65), Davies (Sellens 65), Gregory (Butcher 65), Dack (Blanchard 65), Richardson (Haysman 65), Williams (Humber 65), Webster (Grant 87), Birchall (Nyafli 65).
Daggers – Allick, Sands, Sterling, Bent, Smith, Bingham, Caprice (Shields H/T), Maher, Woodall (Dennis H/T), Green, Reed (Gracco 60) Unused sub – Davie