Report | Gillingham 0-0 Hartlepool United

A replay will be needed to decide Cup tie.

Gillingham will be in the hat for Round Two of the FA Cup but will have to do it the hard way after a stalemate against Hartlepool at the Medway Priestfield Stadium on Saturday.

Throughout the game, the Gills were unable to cut through their well-organised National League opponents with Hanlan going closest with an effort just after the break.

Tomas Holy was in good form between the sticks making a number of saves to keep Gillingham in the competition, perhaps the pick saw him get down low to block Donaldson’s low drive in the second period.

Gillingham Manager Steve Lovell named an unchanged starting XI from the side that slipped to defeat against Blackpool on Tuesday night with Billy Bingham coming onto the bench having recovered from the knock he picked up against Fleetwood.

It was a quiet opening ten minutes to the game as both sides tested each other out. Tom Eaves had the best moments with a shot from inside the area well blocked before he got his head to a Luke O’Neill cross but under severe pressure was unable to get his effort on target.

The Gills were struggling to make any headway against the back five despite dominating the possession against the visitors, and did well to clear a couple of set pieces from the Pools.

Hanlan had the best chance for the hosts within the opening half hour as he did well to battle past two Hartlepool defenders before driving into the box. However he slightly overran the ball allowing a defender to get a block in while Eaves demanded the ball in space to his left.

Up the other end, Featherstone was left in too much space 30 yards from goal allowing him to get a shot in but he blasted well wide of Tomas Holy’s goal.

After 40 minutes, the visitors nearly had a golden chance to take the lead as a cross in wasn’t fully dealt with but the Gills were able to hack clear before it dropped to a player in white.

A minute later and the Pools were gifted a great opportunity as James did well down the right before cutting it back to Noble in acres of space in the box but he shot straight at Holy and the rebound was blazed over.

The Non-League opponents were looking the more likely of the two teams and an incisive ball released Kitching inside the left hand side of the box but his drilled cross was diverted behind for a corner and the set piece was wasted in the final action of an eventless first period.

H/T: 0 – 0

Steve Lovell made a change at the break with Bingham on for Connor Ogilvie, and the Gills started much brighter with Hanlan nearly getting the opener seconds after the restart. He brushed aside his man on the left side and raced into the box curling a shot across goal that juts evaded Regan Charles-Cook’s onrushing run and ran agonisingly wide of the post.

Featherstone had the visitors first attempt on target of the half as he burst from a deep midfield position before unleashing from 30 yards, but it was straight at Holy who could make a simple save.

Despite the Gills looking far brighter after the break, Hartlepool went close when Donaldson had space in the box and fired a low shot in which Holy did brilliantly to save, getting down low to get a big strong hand to it. Dinanga then went close for the Pool with a rising shot from the edge of box that just cleared the bar.

Those warnings sparked Gillingham back into life with some good build up play going unrewarded as the defence just did enough to prevent Max Ehmer getting a clear effort away as a deep cross was hung into the box.

As the game ticked past the hour, the visitors remained a threat with Noble firing over from 30 yards ignoring Richardson who was well-placed down the right.

The introduction of Elliott List after 73 minutes brought renewed spark to Gillingham’s front-line with Eaves doing well to hold up a deflected cross from Charles-Cook before playing into Mark Byrne’s path but his shot was blocked.

Pressure was starting to build on the Hartlepool defence. Darren Oldaker was next to take aim as a corner routine found him on space on the edge of the box but his curling effort was over the bar.

List then did well to take down a long ball, and charge at the defence but when he tried to clip Eaves in the ball was too strong allowing the keeper to claim.

The Gills were given one final chance deep into added time when List got up well to win a header and get a free-kick 30 yards out. Oldaker stepped up and blazed over with the referee blowing for full time immediately.

F/T: 0 – 0

Gillingham finish their Checkatrade Trophy campaign against Crawley Town on Tuesday evening and travel to Oxford on Saturday in another crucial League fixture.

Gillingham: Holy, O’Neill, Zakuani, Ehmer, Fuller, Ogilvie (Bingham, 46); Oldaker, Byrne, Charles-Cook; Eaves, Hanlan (List, 73)

Unused subs: Hadler (GK), Simpson, Nasseri, Parrett, Parker

Hartlepool: Loach; Kitching, Magnay, Anderson, Richardson, Donaldson (Newton, 90); Noble, Featherstone, McLaughlin; James (O’Neill, 71), Dinanga (Muir, 76)

Unused subs: Catterick (GK), Hawkes, Woods, Murphy

Referee: Mr Brett Huxtable                          

Attendance: 2,224 (126)