Four different scorers on target as Gills win at Eastleigh.
Gills produced a magnificent second half display to help overcome Eastleigh 4-0 at the Silverlake Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Dean Parrett, Elliott List, Liam Nash and Brandon Hanlan were all on target as Steve Lovell’s men showed their class in a competitive game against Andy Hessenthaler’s men.
The hosts had more of the possession in the opening half but failed to beat Tomas Holy who made two excellent saves from Ben Williamson, having fallen behind courtesy of a Parrett penalty.
Steve Lovell went with a 3-5-2 system with Gabriel Zakuani, Max Ehmer and Alex Lacey playing across the back with Luke O’Neill and Bradley Garmston operating as wing-backs.
The opening exchanges were fairly even as both sides sounded each other out; Mark Yeates asserting himself early on as the man who could make things happen for the hosts.
Gills, sporting their yellow and white alternate strip had to defend well in the early stages to prevent Paul McCallum troubling Holy, with Ehmer feeling the full force of the striker’s presence on 12 minutes when a clash of heads sent the centre-back to the ground. However, he was soon back to his feet.
Yeates was back in the mix on 18 minutes; from distance he tried to catch Holy off guard with a snap shot towards the top corner but missed the target.
On 24 minutes the visitors, who had resisted some pressure in the minutes prior, had a chance to take the lead from the spot. Regan Charles-Cook timed his run to perfection through the middle, he worked his way around Graham Stack and the keeper brought the midfielder down giving the referee no other option but to award the penalty.
Parrett stepped up confidently and struck his spot kick into the bottom left hand corner.
Eastleigh continued to play their patient passing game and certainly had the attacking presence up front in McCallum and Williamson but the three man Gills defence stuck to their tasks well and proved difficult to break down.
However, just before the interval Gills were nearly beaten twice and it was down to the goalkeeping heroics of Tomas Holy to keep the score at 0-1.
His first save, the pick of the two, was an incredible stop low to his right. McCallum’s cross was near inch perfect for former Gills striker Williamson, he could do no more than get meaningful contact and with everyone at the ground just waiting for the ball to cross the line Holy stuck out his right hand, scooped it back into his body and the striker had no second bite of the cherry.
Moments later the big man was at it again; a through ball was played towards the left hand side of the penalty area; Williamson did the correct thing in shooting across the keeper but he stood tall and blocked the resulting effort with his left leg.
Hanlan was introduced at the break in place of Josh Parker and the forward nearly made an immediate impact; List won a header on the right wing and then chased his own flick on. He drove inside the box, picked out Hanlan but the pass was inches short of the sub and Eastleigh narrowly survived.
And another narrow escape was achieved moments later; Stack came a long way to try and deal with a loose ball however he was beaten to the punch by List who couldn’t find enough space to get a shot on goal, and when he did the defence had retreated and got a crucial deflection to concede only a corner which McCallum cleared.
Gills looked a lot brighter in the second period and made Eastleigh pay for their missed chances on 64 minutes. List received the ball inside the centre circle and within a second his pace had left the defence in his wake.
He burst into the box, cut in on his right foot and produced an excellent finish which was too good for Stack.
List was immediately replaced by Liam Nash and it didn’t take too long for him to join the party. Nasseri, on for Byrne, played in the striker on the right hand side of the box. From a decent angle his 20-yard effort struck the underside of Stack and the keeper couldn’t react in time as the ball rolled in.
And just a few minutes later it was 4-0; O’Neill produced one of his customary excellent corner kicks. Hanlan beat his marker and got up early and found the bottom corner with an excellent header which gave Stack no chance.
Eastleigh starting XI: Stack, Hare, Green, Gobern, Johnson, McCallum, Yeates, Boyce, Wynter, Hollands, Williamson.
Gills: Holy (Hadler 78), O'Neill, Ehmer, Zakuani, Lacey, Garmston (Fuller 58), Charles-Cook (Rees 74), Parrett (Bingham 66), Byrne (Nasseri 74), Parker (Hanlan 46), List (Nash 71)