Steve Lovell optimistic despite a replay being required to determine first round victors.
Gillingham Manager Steve Lovell credited Hartlepool’s strong defensive performance but was disappointed that his side failed to adapt to the situation and break down the stubborn back five employed by the National League side.
Brandon Hanlan went closest for the Gills with a low curling effort seconds after the half-time break, while Tomas Holy had to be at his best to keep out Donaldson’s low drive before the hour in a 0-0 draw.
Lovell felt Hartlepool’s approach stifled the attacking threats the Gills normally utilise but still felt his team should have had enough quality to adapt and get the job done.
“They came and did a job, and they did their job better than we did ours. They sat behind the ball and put everybody behind the ball.
“They dictated to us the way they wanted us to play – we had nowhere to go, we didn’t use our strengths.
“We were a lot better in the second half, still a long way off what we have been doing, but we got the ball forward into good areas and created a bit more. I wanted to get Regan in the middle of the pitch and go to the diamond as I think it suits us more.”
With the replay likely to be on Wednesday 21st of November*, Lovell is anticipating a more open game at Victoria Park which should play into Gillingham’s hands.
“It’s nil-nil and we’re still in the hat, so that’s the positive I can take out of it. We’ve got to go up there and get the job done.
“Credit to them, but now they’ve got to do the opposite and try to beat us up there.
“We will go up there and play the same way we do at most grounds because hopefully the game will be open.”
One positive for the Gills was another clean sheet for the defensive unit – the third in four games – and Lovell was happy to see another shut-out at home.
“It’s a clean sheet for the back four today – I think Max and Gabs were fantastic today as always.
“Defensively we were sound, apart from the odd one or two half chances they didn’t create much.
“But we need to start getting back on track regarding creating more. The last two games we haven’t created much so it’s not enough.”
*The date of the replay has yet to be confirmed.