Published: 22:00, 21 November 2018
| Updated: 09:10, 22 November 2018
Gillingham manager Steve Lovell was just pleased to be into round two of the FA Cup after an unbelievable night in Hartlepool.
His side booked a trip to Slough in the next round but did it the hard way, coming from two goals down to take the tie into extra-time with the last kick of the game.
They struck twice more in extra-time before another Hartlepool goal kept the game on a knife-edge,
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Lovell said: “It was unbelievable and it sums football and the FA Cup up doesn’t it?
“They are two leagues below us but again caused us problems which they shouldn’t have done, although we did cause our own problems. The first goal maybe Tomas Holy (the Gills keeper) could have done better with but the second was a good save and the fella has followed in.
“I am just happy we are through, I'm delighted, because it’s a banana skin going to these places, you are up against it, expected to win and sometimes it is hard but the boys showed so much character, absolutely fantastic character.
“They are a great bunch, they were out on their feet afterwards, but they deserved it over the 120 minutes, they definitely did.
“We played some really good stuff, created some good chances, especially second half and I am really pleased for them.”
Lovell was trying to keep his composure on the touchline throughout all of the drama and wasn’t taking his eyes off the pitch as Tom Eaves scored the crucial last-gasp penalty to level the scores after normal time.
He said: “I watched the penalty; I just wanted to saviour the enjoyment of it going in because there were so many turns in the game.
“I am just glad to be looking forward to Slough (in the next round) because I must admit, on the touchline I was thinking, ‘we’re having a weekend off’ and was horrible.
“I went through some bad times on that touchline but you can’t show it, you have to keep going, keep the boys going and that’s what we did, we always believed that if we kept going we would win. I didn’t want to leave it that late to be honest!
“But it was a penalty, we deserved it second half, we had so many chances and so many attempts and deflections, it was well deserved, thoroughly deserved, the boys we fantastic and they gave everything.
“This is a lovely reward for the boys, for all of the hard work and endeavour that they have put in. Sometimes this season we haven’t got what we deserve out of games but we did this time all the hard work with and without the ball has been deserved and it will give them a boost.”
Lovell also praised the 101 fans who made the trip.
He said: “It is fantastic for them to come up on a Wednesday night and take time off from their work and everything is brilliant.
“It is nice they could go home happy and look forward to us perhaps taking a good crowd to Slough in the next round.
“It’s great. That is what I said to them at half time, ‘you boys have 45 minutes to keep yourselves in the FA Cup, because it is a fantastic competition. They did. Credit to them.”
More by this authorLuke Cawdell