Gills defeat Orient to progress in FA Cup.
Gillingham Caretaker Manager Steve Lovell was pleased to see his team battle to victory in the first-round of the Emirates FA Cup first round, edging past Leyton Orient 2-1 in a combative game at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
The Gills dominated the first half and led at the break with Josh Parker heading home from a brilliant Elliott List cross. The O’s were much improved in the second half but fell further behind when Tom Eaves drilled home after holding off a defender, however Orient did get the goal their efforts deserved when a James Dayton free-kick eluded everybody in the box and ended up in the net.
But, to Lovell’s delight, the Gills held on to claim victory with Joe Widdowson receiving his marching orders in stoppage time after a second yellow followed a cynical shirt-pull on Conor Wilkinson.
“I was a lot more nervous today before the game than I was before Wigan or Peterborough," Steve said. "It was a tough game because when you’re the underdogs you’ve got nothing to lose and they’ll throw everything at you.
“We started very well and the first half was going to plan. If anything, I thought it became too easy for us at times because players start doing the wrong things, and getting overconfident, rather than killing the game off.
“The only thing that was missing in the first half was sticking the ball in the back of the net. We got the second goal which I thought would spur us on again, but they got their goal which game them a lift and it was a bit nail-biting at the end.
“Any win that you get, be it League or Cup, it breeds confidence. We’ve got through the first round and we’re in the hat, now."
Tom Eaves and Josh Parker, the goal-scorers from the Rotherham victory were again on the scoresheet, while Elliott List supplied the first with a brilliant cross and was a constant menace. Lovell was pleased that the attacking trio continued their great form but continues to demand more from them.
“Elliott is a lovely lad and he’s a talent – he’s got to start believing in himself and when he does that we will start to see a lot more from him. Josh has also got a few goals and again is starting to believe in himself a little bit more.
“Tom is a big lad and he wasn’t using his body enough. We got him in the gym and got him a bit stronger and now he’s banging people off the ball left, right and centre. That’s what made his goal second half and it was a really good finish, as well.
“When your forwards are starting to find the net it’s nice and it gives everybody else a boost in the side.”
Finally, Lovell commented on the news that Billy Bingham has sustained a serious injury which looks likely to side-line the midfielder for a considerable period of time.
“I feel sorry for Billy. He’s got himself back into the side, got himself fit and he’s a very good player. I was very upset for him yesterday.
“He’s chipped a bone in his leg and his ankle, and he’s going to be out for a while. He’s got to go for another scan on it to see exactly what the damage is, but it’s devastating for him because he’s such a good lad and a good player.
“We wish him well and want him back as soon as possible.”