Andy Hessenthaler heaps praise on Gills players after making Bristol City work for their place at Wembley

Andy Hessenthaler said the Gills players were `a credit to the Football Club` following the 1-1 draw with Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Thursday night.

The hosts advanced to Wembley in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final 5-3 on aggregate, but only after the Gills had given the Robins a real fright with keeper Frank Fielding needing to make two top class saves to keep the scores level.

Jermaine McGlashan cancelled out Matt Smith’s early opener, and Doug Loft was desperately unlucky not to put the Gills in front before the break with Fielding palming the ball to safety.

A gutsy second half display saw the visitors grab a draw on the night, and Hessenthaler said the staff could not have asked more from the players.

He said: “Very proud, I thought the boys were terrific tonight. We started off a little bit slow but gradually grew into the game and we passed the ball really well with some good combination play all over the pitch.

“We’ve just said to them that they are a credit to the Football Club tonight, this is not an easy place to come and without doubt they are the best team in the league.

“We were patient with the ball, sometimes we had to go back to go forwards which worked for us and we created opportunities. “

The early goal was a setback for Gillingham but Hessenthaler praised the squad for digging deep and maintaining their belief.

He added: “We said that could happen but you’ve just got to keep going and keep doing it in the right way which we’ve been doing over the last few weeks.

“You keep believing and we got a lovely goal back. We worked the ball well and it was a lovely finish from Glash and we gradually got on top.

“Lofty perhaps should have scored. It was a good save but I think it was a good height for the keeper but anything lower to his left hand side and that goes in.

“If It does it could have been a different kind of game, McGlashan then had a chance and the keeper makes another great save.

"We can’t ask any more from the boys, we just said we can come up here in the league full of confidence and come away with something.”