Dover dump ailing Gills out of FA Cup
19:51 06 November 2010
Gillingham 0 Dover Athletic 2
By David Pritchard
Dover piled the pressure on under-fire Gillingham boss Andy Hessenthaler as the Conference South side dumped their local rivals out of the FA Cup at Priestfield.
Goals from Adam Birchall and Luke I'Anson in the opening half hour put the visitors in charge. They needed an excellent display from goalkeeper Ross Flitney early in the second half to preserve their lead, but the Gills faded once John Nutter was sent off 20 minutes from time.
The hosts were booed off by their fans for the second game in a row as their mediocre season reached its lowest point to date.
The big pre-match team news was the return of Nicky Southall to the Gillingham line-up for the first time in 18 months to face his old side. The 38-year-old came in for Adebayo Akinfenwa, with Dennis Oli playing up front alongside Cody McDonald.
Martin Hayes left out ex-Gill Jon Wallis from his starting XI, but Tom Wynter, whose first start for Gillingham came in their FA Cup exit at Accrington Stanley in January, shook off an injury to start for the visitors.
Dover, with seven wins in their last 10 games, forced a corner inside the opening 30 seconds but Gillingham had the better of the opening exchanges without forcing Flitney to make a save.
The hosts' defence has looked edgy in recent weeks and Dover caused them problems when in possession. They took the lead in spectacular fashion on 18 minutes when Birchall spun and fired a shot over Alan Julian from 25 yards. It was the striker's 17th goal in 10 games and sent the 2,300 travelling fans ballistic.
Oli limped off, replaced by Akinfenwa, but the half got even worse for the Gills as Dover doubled their lead in the 27th minute. Julian saved a shot from Harry Baker, but the ball looped up to Elliott Charles, whose blocked shot fell invitingly for I'Anson to smash home. Gillingham complained about a foul from Charles in the build-up, but the referee was not interested as the home fans began to turn on their team.
Flitney made an excellent stop to deny Danny Spiller an instant response, but Hessenthaler was forced to make another change as Matt Lawrence picked up an injury. With no more centre-backs in the squad Nutter deputised.
Gillingham's best spell came in the 20 minutes after the break. They emerged with more purpose and pinned back Dover for the first time.
Southall judged a high ball well to volley sweetly from the edge of the box, forcing Flitney to make an excellent save low to his right. The Whites goalkeeper went on to make four more smart saves in quick succession to keep the home side out.
As the time ebbed away the Gills committed more men to attack, leaving them exposed at the back. It contributed to Nutter's sending off on 70 minutes, when the makeshift centre-back clipped the heels of Harry Baker on his way through to goal.
Dover were happy to soak up the pressure of the 10 men and wind the clock down. Their defence dealt easily with the last desperate attacks from the hosts to book their place in the second round draw.
For reaction from both managers, click here.
Attendance: 7,475 (2,300 away)
Gillingham: Julian, Fuller, Lawrence (S Payne 42), Sinclair, Nutter, Southall, Spiller, J Payne, Palmer (Inkango 75), Oli (Akinfenwa 20), McDonald
Substitutes: Cronin, Maher, Miller
Dover: Flitney, Fish, Wynter, Tabiri, Schulz (Aisien 85), Gillman, Baker, I'Anson, Charles, Birchall, Long (Wallis 83)
Substitutes: Hunt, Norville, Cutler, Hook, Bah