Keeper heroics books Gillingham Town a spot in next round of FA Vase
A RESILIENT display from Gillingham Town saw them escape from Plymouth Parkway with a narrow victory and progress into the second qualifying round of the FA Vase.
A man-of-the-match performance from goalkeeper Jonny Hill was needed to ensure the Gills came out on top as the hosts dominated proceedings from the outset.
Gillingham had played South West Peninsula League Parkway twice in friendly matches over the last two seasons and conceded six goals in each game, so it came as no surprise when the Plymouth outfit began creating an array of chances, forcing Hill to make an impressive stop early on.
The visitors from the Toolstation Western League Premier Division forged opportunities of their own as the half wore on, but Parkway continued to press, seeing one effort strike the woodwork. Gillingham held out until the break to keep the score goal-less.
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The second half started in a similar fashion to the first and Hill's heroics continued until Gillingham were awarded a free kick on the edge of the hosts' penalty area with 51 minutes played.
Lee Gale's attempt struck the wall and the ball fell to James Hatcher, who unleashed a powerful drive into the top corner of the goal and to give his side an unlikely lead.
Just two minutes later Gale beat the offside trap to break free on the right before pulling the ball across the face of the goal for Matt Chant, who was caught by a defender in the box as he was about to shoot. The referee pointed to the spot and Gale buried the spot-kick to double the away side's advantage.
Parkway appeared stunned and came under more pressure, but they were soon back on the front foot and pulled a goal back with an effort from the edge of the area.
Despite the hosts' continued attempts to equalise, Gillingham held on with further help from Hill to book their place in the next round.
Gills manager Adrian Foster said: "We did not perform well at all except from the ten-minute spell when we got the two goals.
"But in some ways it is pleasing when you win without playing well – you get a good vibe from it.
"Jonny has come on tremendously well from last season. He kept us in the game but it is a testament to the whole team really because they are all doing their bit to win the games."