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Hessenthaler: This was my finest hour

BIG MOMENT: Skipper Paul Smith fires home Gillingham's third
BIG MOMENT: Skipper Paul Smith fires home Gillingham's third

GILLINGHAM player boss Andy Hessenthaler has hailed the 3-2 FA win over Charlton as his finest hour at the club.

Hessenthaler ranks the FA Cup victory against a side currently lying fourth in the Premiership above his two play-off final appearances at Wembley for the club and finishing 11th in Division 1.

And now he wants to face Premiership leaders Manchester United when the draw for the fourth round is made at 1pm today (Monday).

He said: "We thoroughly deserved to win. We've been to Wembley finals but today was one of the best days.

"We made it tight in midfield and played some really good football. It was a great result against an in-form Premiership side - we made Charlton look poor. Now I want Manchester United at home in the next round."

Hessenthaler was a bag of nerves during the match against Charlton - especially when the Gills conceded after just 34 seconds - but was all smiles after goals from Tommy Johnson, Mamady Sidibe and Paul Smith secured a 3-2 victory.

"A lot of teams that concede a goal that early would have dropped their heads and a lot of Premiership teams would have gone on and won the game comfortably.

"But this shows the character of the team. We kept our heads up, tried to pass the ball, got the goal and from then on we dominated the game. It wasn't a case of us nicking a result - we thoroughly deserved to win."

Hessenthaler had nothing but praise for all his players after the game, and singled out French keeper Bertrand Bossu for special praise after his spectacular treble save kept Charlton out in the closing stages.

Bossu, who was playing non-league football for Hayes this time last year, recovered from a bad start with the opening goal to become a true blue hero who was in tears in the dressing room after the match.

He said: "There has been a lot of talk about Bertrand because he is only a young boy, has only played a game and a half for us and has come in for a bit of criticism.

"I was nervous for him after Charlton's first goal but, full credit to him, he held his nerve and made some outstanding saves.

"He was brilliant. We had a team talk after the game and he burst into tears."

Charlton manager Alan Curbishley was also full of praise for Gillingham's players after the match.

He said: "Most Premiership sides would have found it hard here. Gillingham were aggressive, first to the ball and deserved everything they got."

"I'm not happy with how we played, though. We got beaten because they were hungrier and played better than us."

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