Steve Lovell's side battle back from the dead to seal a 4-3 win over Hartlepool in the FA Cup.
Gillingham produced a stunning comeback at the Super Six Stadium against Hartlepool to win 4-3 and book their place in the Second Round of the Emirates FA Cup.
After finding themselves two down at the break Max Ehmer, and a 95th minute Tom Eaves penalty, took the tie to extra-time before a Luke O’Neill free-kick and an Elliott List drive put the Gills ahead. A late consolation goal from Tyrone O’Neill gave the Gills a scare but they hung on to book their place in the second round where they will play Slough Town.
Gillingham made one change from the side that lost 1-0 to Oxford on Saturday; List dropping to the subs bench to be replaced by Darren Oldaker. Meanwhile, the hosts made three changes from their weekend defeat to Barnet.
Gills had a golden chance to take the lead within the first minute. Billy Bingham finding Tom Eaves in the box, but the forward saw his low shot saved by Scott Loach in the Pools goal.
Gills were dictating a lot of the early play with Eaves involved in most of the positive things the visitors were doing but that final piece of quality was just evading Lovell’s men.
The first Hartlepool pressure brought their opening chance when Ryan Donaldson hit his low effort comfortably past the post of Tomas Holy. Just minutes later though, Donaldson would come even closer, a back-post header being brilliantly saved by the Czech stopper when the midfielder looked destined to score. Suddenly the hosts were ramping up the pressure, this time Featherstone shooting wide.
In a lively encounter in the North East Oldaker was the next man to try his luck, but his effort from the edge of the box fell in to the arms of Scott Loach without too much trouble.
Hartlepool took the lead in the 22nd minute when following a free-kick on the left-hand side, Carl Magnay turned home after a flick on inside the box; Holy was left stranded and the defender just rolled the ball in to the empty net.
Gills went about responding and came close through Oldaker, the midfielder showing good feet before being denied at the near post by Loach.
In the 33rd minute Hartlepool doubled their lead. Marcus Dinanga struck from the edge of the area, Holy managed to get down to it but could only parry the ball out to Paddy Mclaughlin who stroked home in to the empty net to give the Gills a mountain to climb with just 30 minutes on the clock.
The early setbacks had clearly affected Gills and they were struggling to build any pressure, Nicky Featherstone shooting wide from the edge of the box as the hosts looked more like extending their lead.
Gillingham made a change at the break; List replacing Brandon Hanlan as Steve Lovell looked to the forward for a way back in to the game.
His change had an immediate impact just five minutes later as Gillingham pulled a goal back through Max Ehmer. Following a quick free-kick down the left Mark Byrne dinked an exquisite through ball to Ehmer who took a touch before slotting past Loach.
Lovell brought on Josh Rees to try and find an equaliser, but Gills were struggling to break down a resolute Pools backline who were throwing themselves in front of everything.
In the 67th minute Luke James tried his luck from the edge of the box but Holy gathered at the second attempt.
Lovell’s final throw of the dice was to introduce Bradley Garmston to help try and gain some momentum and it nearly worked as a string of Gills chances were blocked by the Pools defence. First Josh Rees was denied before Billy Bingham’s goal bound effort was somehow diverted past the post.
In the 75th minute Tom Eaves came within inches of pulling the Gills level. Good work down the right-hand side saw Luke O’Neill find some space to deliver to the big number nine but his looping header went narrowly over the bar.
Just minutes later and the hosts should have put the game to bed, a slip by Ehmer allowed Tyrone O’Neill through on goal but Tomas Holy stayed big to produce a huge save to keep Gills in the tie.
The game was becoming very open, first Bingham saw a shot tipped over the bar before List had a goal ruled out, the linesman deeming the ball to have gone out of play before List turned home.
List’s pace was causing all sorts of problems for the Pools defence and it took a last ditch save from Scott Loach to deny the forward, after he had showed great feet to wriggle away from multiple defenders.
Gillingham were throwing all they had at Hartlepool but to no avail, Ehmer had another shot blocked and it looked like Gills would be heading out of the cup.
That was until the 95th minute. A long diagonal ball was handled in the box and Gills were awarded a penalty. Eaves took responsibility and slotted the ball in to the net to send the 101 travelling fans crazy in the far corner.
Extra time started at a much slower tempo, but Holy had to be on hand to deny Ryan Donaldson from getting in on goal. At the other end List did well to rise highest but his header went straight at Scott Loach.
Gills were to take the lead for the first time in the 103rd minute. List was bundled over about 30 yards out. Up stepped Luke O’Neill and the full-back produced a wonderful strike in to the corner to put the Gills ahead.
Then, just moments after half-time of extra-time, List went through on goal following a Mark Byrne through ball and finished clinically low and hard to double the Gills lead.
Hartlepool cut the deficit to one in the 113th minute. Tyrone O’Neill somehow bundling through a couple of tackles before poking beyond Tomas Holy to give the Gills a nervous last few minutes at Victoria Park, but they held firm to book a place in round two to play Slough Town.
F/T (AET) 3-4
Hartlepool: Scott Loach, Kenton Richardson, Andrew Davies (Myles Anderson 37’), Carl Magnay, Mark Kitching, Ryan Donaldson, Liam Noble, Nicky Featherstone (Niko Muir 96), Paddy Mclaughlin, Marcus Dinanga (Tyrone O’Neill 66’), Luke James (Conor Newton 83’.)
Unused subs: Ryan Catterick, Peter Kioso, Lewis Hawkes, Niko Muir.
Gillingham: Tomas Holy, Luke O’Neill, Gabriel Zakuani, Max Ehmer, Barry Fuller (Bradley Garmston 71’), Mark Byrne, Billy Bingham, Darren Oldaker, Regan Charles-Cook (Josh Rees 62’), Tom Eaves (Alex Lacey 118), Brandon Hanlan (Elliott List 45’).
Unused subs: Tom Hadler, Conor Ogilvie, Dean Parrett.
Referee: Mr S Oldham
Attendance 1873 (101)