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Noel Mbo makes his first Football League appearance in Gillingham's win over Portsmouth

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Striker Noel Mbo made his Football League debut as a late substitute on Boxing Day.

He went on shortly after Callum Reilly had put the Gills 2-0 up against Portsmouth but boss Steve Lovell had wanted him on before that.

“He was going to go on whether we scored the penalty or not,” said the manager, who substituted him for goalscorer Josh Parker.

Noel Mbo makes his Football League debut against Portsmouth Picture: Ady Kerry (6207412)
Noel Mbo makes his Football League debut against Portsmouth Picture: Ady Kerry (6207412)

“Josh had run himself into the ground and he deserved the standing ovation, I wanted him to get that, it was great for Josh.

“Noel has earned his chance, he has worked hard, he is a goalscorer and he ran around.

"He had a chance at the end to have a run but he half checked on it, you can understand that, it was his first game in league football and he didn’t want to mess it up.

“I am really pleased for Noel, he is a lovely lad. We will see how we go with him.”

Mbo tweeted afterwards: “Santa dropped off my present late but I’m happy I got it. Three points. Buzzing to have made my league debut at home Infront of our amazing fans. Thank you for your support, onwards and upwards.”

Missing out on Boxing Day was Darren Oldaker, dropped from the squad after being replaced in the starting eleven by Callum Reilly.

Lovell hopes a step backwards will do the young midfielder some good.

He said: “I have had a little word with DJ, he has come into the side and done very well, the last couple he perhaps hasn’t been the DJ that I wanted, so I have told him to get back to what he should be doing.

“I said to him there are still 20 odd games to go and he will be a big part of it but I want him to be a big part when he is 100% going at it. I want boys to go out there and be able to run around for 100 minutes and give everything.”

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