Replay needed as Gills draw 1-1 with Carlisle.
Gillingham manager Steve Lovell was left to reflect on a combative draw after his side failed to break down League Two opposition, Carlisle United, with his side now facing a long trip to Cumbria for a replay to progress to the third round of the FA Cup.
Luke O’Neill gave the Gills the perfect start to the tie, curling home a perfect free-kick from 25 yards after just five minutes. However, Carlisle equalised from the spot ten minutes later before executing a robust defensive display to keep the Gills at the bay for the remainder of the game.
Lovell was disappointed that his side didn’t kick on from their early goal, commenting:
“I thought we started brightly and got a good goal. But they get the penalty – it was a definite penalty – and it gives them a lift. From then they hung on and Tomas Holy didn’t have a save to make.
“It was just the start that we needed. It wasn’t a top performance, by far, we’re disappointed with it but we haven’t lost the game so there’s a plus in that.
Carlisle battled hard from the back, frustrating the Gills’ attack but Lovell was looking forward to a more open game in the replay.
“They stuck men behind the ball, we had a number of opportunities but couldn’t break them down. Teams come here and stop us from playing, they defend in numbers.
“They don’t realise that we’re better away from home! [Carlisle] will come at us at their place and that will make it more of an open game, which will suit us."
Despite dominating possession, Lovell was disappointed that his side failed to capitalise on the space the Gills created out wide.
“I thought we had good opportunities in wide areas to hurt them but our cross, our balls into the box, were poor today.
“We hit the front man, and that was frustrating. If you’re an attacker and the ball is not getting to you in the box, it becomes frustrating.
“I feel that were getting better and better, but when we go below what we should be doing we struggle.”