Lovell praises squad for incredible comeback at the Super Six Stadium.
Gillingham manager Steve Lovell was full of pride after watching his side come from 2-0 down to defeat Hartlepool 4-3 after extra-time at Victoria Park on Wednesday evening.
Goals from Max Ehmer, Tom Eaves, Luke O’Neill and Elliott List helped the Gills secure a win to book their place in the second round of the FA Cup, with a tie at Slough Town the reward for their win.
Reflecting on the game Lovell said: “In the first-half we huffed and puffed and had a few chances but didn’t take them. They took the two opportunities they had.
“We had to keep doing what we were doing but put the chances away. Max got one early doors and it was a definite penalty at the end. I talk about breaks in Football but that’s the biggest one we’ve had. It was the last kick of the game to get a chance of going to extra-time and to be fair to Tom he was calm and stuck it away.
“I’m just delighted we are through because it’s a banana skin coming to places like this because we are expected to win, and the boys showed great character. They deserved it over the 120 minutes and they are out on their feet. I’m pleased for them.”
Gills looked down and out at two-nil down but showed tremendous character to fight back against an organised Hartlepool side, and Lovell said it’s what his squad deserved after a gritty display.
He added: “This is a lovely reward for the boys for all the hard work and endeavour they have put in. Sometimes we haven’t got what we deserved in games but I think today we did. It will give them a boost. They were brilliant tonight.
“I went through some bad times on that touchline today, but you have to keep the boys going and we always believe…we just didn’t want to leave it that late!
“I said a few choice words [at half-time], but I tend not to shout. it’s about getting things right. Whatever happened in the first-half was gone. I was more concerned about how we could approach the next 45 minutes. Elliott had another opportunity to show us what he could do, and he did, and he had an impact. Josh Rees came on and did a good job.”
Eaves converted a penalty deep into second-half stoppage time to ensure Gills had another half an hour to try and win the tie, with O’Neill’s free-kick giving the visitors the lead they then held onto.
Lovell added: “It was unbelievable really and that just sums football up, and the FA Cup. We caused our own problems and I think we could have done better with both goals.
“Tom stepped up and was calm with it being the last kick of the game. Luke practices them [free-kicks] on the training ground and that’s what he does on the training ground; he sticks them in and Max fancies himself as a centre forward but Tomas Holy made a good save at 2-1 so it’s a real team effort. I thought DJ had a real great game tonight – he’s growing and maturing but they all gave everything.”