Gillingham 0 Hartlepool United 0 FA Cup match report

Quality was in short supply as Gillingham were taken to a replay by Hartlepool in the FA Cup.

Gillingham struggled to show their authority on home turf against non-league opposition, a side playing two divisions below them in the football pyramid.

The best chances of the first round tie fell to the visitors and they were able to hold onto a deserved draw despite Gills’ late pressure.

Gillingham manager Steve Lovell Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham manager Steve Lovell Picture: Ady Kerry

National League opponents Hartlepool arrived at Priestfield in poor form, losing their previous three in the league, including a 4-0 thumping at Bromley last time out.

Pools manager Matthew Bates was also missing a couple of defenders through suspension, including their captain.

Gills’ mini-revival came to an end in the week, with a 1-0 home defeat to Blackpool. Billy Bingham returned to the squad following injury but had to make do with a place on the bench as boss Steve Lovell stuck with an unchanged eleven.

There was a small crowd at Priestfield and those that turned up might have wished they hadn’t following a poor opening 45 minutes.

The Gills were unable to test visiting keeper Scott Loach in the first half, the best efforts being a blocked shot from Tom Eaves and a glancing header that also fell to Gills’ leading scorer, but he was unable to direct it goalwards.

A number of passess from Gillingham were miss-directed, over-hit or were cut out and Hartlepool grew stronger as the half progressed, missing the best chance of the first half on 41 minutes. Liam Noble was found in space but rather than smashing the ball home at the first attempt, he took his time and only found the hands of Tomas Holy.

Lovell made a switch at the break, reverting to his favoured 4-4-2 diamond formation, as Billy Bingham replaced wing-back Connor Ogilvie.

Within seconds the Gills looked more lively. Brandon Hanlan drilled the ball just wide of the far post but at the other end Nicky Featherstone’s shot from distance was well held by Holy and the keeper did even better to get down and block Ryan Donaldson’s powerful effort. Marcus Dinanga also fired wide for the visitors.

Max Ehmer had a half chance with an hour gone from a Luke O’Neill cross but the keeper comfortably saved.

Hartlepool captain Noble looked to pick his spot from distance, after finding himself with penty of space in the middle of the park, only to lash the chance well wide. Mark Byrne’s long range shot moments later also lacked precision.

Lovell threw on List for the final 15 to try and open things up. He got involved straight away as Mark Byrne had a shot blocked. Gillingham continued to lack quality when it mattered, despite getting into some promising positions, drawing groans from the home support.

Hartlepool played for time in the latter stages, content to be taking the Gills up north for a second shot at the League 1 side.

Gillingham: Holy, O’Neill, Fuller, Ehmer, Zakuani, Ogilvie (Bingham 46mins), Oldaker, Byrne, Charles-Cook, Hanlan (List 74mins), Eaves. Subs not used: Hadler, Nasseri, Simpson, Parker, Parrett.

Hartlepool: Loach, Richardson, Anderson, Magnay, Kitching, Donaldson (Newton 90mins), Noble, Featherstone, McLaughlin, James (O’Neill 71mins), Dinanga (Muir 77mins). Subs not used: Catterick, Murphy, Woods, Hawkes.

Attendance: 2,224 (126 away)