Gills seal huge win over Hartlepool at ME7.
Tom Nichols and Dom Jefferies scored their first Gillingham goals as Neil Harris’ side secured a vital three points in a 2-0 win against Hartlepool at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday.
Nichols scored five minutes before half-time as he got on the end of Alex MacDonald’s free-kick towards the six-yard box.
Just short of the hour, Jefferies made it two. He did well to make his way into the left side of the box before curling the ball into the top corner out of the reach of Ben Killip.
Neil Harris announced all four new signings in his starting XI for the bottom-of-the-table clash. Oli Hawkins, Tom Nichols and Timothee Dieng all made their debuts for the club. Glenn Morris returned in goal after signing permanently, while Dom Jefferies was okay to start in midfield, having hobbled off in the FA Cup game against Leicester.
Gills started the game brightly as Max Ehmer had the first real opportunity of the game. Nichols played the ball to Ehmer inside the penalty area, and the central defender took aim from a tight angle. He curled his effort goalward, but it was straight at Ben Killip, who made the easy save.
Nichols was involved again as his ball across the penalty area was pushed out by Killip. It eventually fell to Jefferies, who could not get a shot away as the visitors cleared their lines.
In the 20th minute, Dieng had a good opportunity. Alex MacDonald floated a free-kick from the left of the penalty area towards the six-yard box. Dieng rose the highest but could not keep his header down as it cleared the crossbar.
Nichols continued to cause the Hartlepool defence problems as he got in behind. He made his way to the edge of the penalty area before trying his luck. However, he could not find the target as his shot towards the near post went wide, with Killip having it covered.
Josh Umerah forced Morris into a save in the 29th minute as he did well to get a shot away. The forward received the ball to his feet before turning and directing a powerful strike towards the near post. Morris did well to get across and palm it behind for a corner.
Hawkins had his first chance a few minutes later as he was played through on goal by MacDonald. As he went through on goal, he was being closed down and managed to get a shot away while sliding down to the floor. It had plenty of power but went well over the target.
In the 40th minute, Nichols gave Gillingham the lead. He won a free-kick on the left after being hacked down by Reghan Tumilty, and MacDonald took the set piece. The midfielder curled a fantastic ball towards the six-yard box, which allowed Nichols to get across the defender and prod the ball beyond Killip.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 1-0 Hartlepool United
Hartlepool thought they had equalised in the 58th minute. Mark Shelton, who came on at half-time, was allowed to make his way into the penalty area before shooting. His effort took a deflection on its way to the goal, and Umerah headed it home from close range. Fortunately for Gillingham, he was in an offside position.
It went from bad to worse for the visitors as Jefferies scored his first Gillingham goal seconds later. Nichols played the midfielder through down the left, and the 20-year-old made his way towards the box. He opened his body before curling a shot towards the far corner. It had enough height and power with Killip unable to keep it out, sending the MEMS Priestfield Stadium into raptures.
Umerah was inches away from getting The Pools back into the game. The ball was crossed from the left, and the striker did well to get across his marker and head the ball across the goal. It beat Morris but hit the inside of the post before taking a fortunate bounce back into the hands of the Gills keeper.
Gills got very lucky to keep their clean sheet intact in the 84th minute. Mohamed Sylla floated a cross into the box, which was overhit. Morris looked to go to the ball, but David Ferguson got there at the back post as he looked to head it back across. The Gills keeper somehow got in front of the ball to stop it before claiming it.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 2-0 Hartlepool United
Gillingham: Morris, McKenzie, Ehmer, Wright, Tutonda, Williams, MacDonald (Adelakun 79’), Dieng, Jefferies (Alexander 87’), Nichols (Kashket 80’), Hawkins
Unused Substitutes: Turner, Baggott, O’Keefe, Gbode
Hartlepool United: Killip, Tumilty (Shelton 46’), Menayese, Ferguson, Dodds, Dolan, Syla, Featherstone, Grey (McDonald 81’), Umerah, Hamilton (Hastie 46’)
Unused Substitutes: Boyes, Niang, Missilou
Attendance: 6003 (255 Away fans)
Referee: Robert Lewis