Faversham Town 0-1 Gillingham - These nights are really important for non-league club's, it sets us up for the season, says Faversham Town boss Ray Turner

Friday 07th July 2017
Faversham Town 0 – 1 Gillingham
Location Salters Lane, Faversham, Kent ME13 8ND
Kickoff 07/07/2017 19:30

Pre-Season Friendly
Friday 7 July 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Salters Lane

FAVERSHAM TOWN boss Ray Turner says he enjoyed a nice opening pre-season friendly against Sky Bet League One side Gillingham tonight.

Tom Eaves, 25, a summer signing from Yeovil Town, opened his goalscoring account for Gillingham on his club debut by stroking home the only goal of the game halfway through the first half.

A crowd of 1,214 flocked through the turnstiles at Salters Lane as The Lilywhites officially opened their new dressing room block and the large Friday night crowd was a welcomed financial boost for the Bostik South club.

“A really good work-out, really pleased with our overall shape and structure of the team,” said a satisfied Turner.

“I think it’s hard to maintain that when you’re making the changes that we naturally do but when we made the changes with the young lads, the shape stayed pretty similar.

“I think we actually created better chances towards the end.  It wasn’t about…I know managers say it about pre-season, but for me it was our first work-out.  Some new players that we’ve brought in we’re all on show apart from Macauley Murray and they acquitted themselves well.

“We’ve got several options as well coming off the bench.  I thought all in all, in terms of the night, the night is about this place (the newly-built dressing room block), the ambitions. It’s a fantastic facility as you’ve seen. Hopefully, it’s a step forward in the right direction for quite a small club that’s come a long way.

“It’s a nice feeling and I’m very appreciative of Gills, not only bring a team down but the nature of the side they brought down and the players that were on show. It’s attracted a lot of interest from their perspective as well.  I’m very grateful for them.  These nights are really important for non-league clubs. It sets us up for the season, it’s a great way of opening it and hopefully a few of those have been entertained and they might just come back.”

Gillingham boss Adrian Pennock said: “My thoughts, just pleased with the run out, that’s all it is.  We played two teams, two 45 minutes and the pleasing thing for me was the fitness levels and no injuries.  I’m just pleased overall, it was good.

“Faversham have been very, very good to us. It was a good work-out overall.

“The boys have been working hard and have been doing some triple sessions in Ireland and double sessions all this week. I thought the game was played in good spirit and we had no problems at all so it was very good.”

Gillingham won the corner count by 12-2 and nine of those deliveries came in the first half and they should have opened the scoring after only 96 seconds.

Lee Martin played a short corner to Scott Wagstaff, who floated over a cross for Eaves to rise above his man to plant his header over the crossbar from six-yards.

Midfielder Martin floated over his second delivery from the right and Gabriel Zakuani came up from the back to suffer similar fate.

Faversham Town were to be denied a ninth minute lead when Matt Bourne hit a long ball out of defence and quality holding up play from lone striker Liam King set up a chance for Sam Bewick, who swept his right-footed shot towards goal only for Gillingham keeper Tomas Holy to dive high to his right to pull off a great save.

Turner said: “It’s hard to take me back that far but I remember that one. He struck it really clean. It’s probably a good save for a keeper that size but at least he’s made him work.”

On the save, Pennock said: “That’s all good, it keeps him sharp doesn’t it. Stuart Nelson done one second half.”

Faversham Town were to be denied again, this time by the underside of the crossbar, inside the opening 11 minutes.

George Monger played a clever short free-kick routine to play Bewick in space down the right and he drilled his shot from a tight angle which screamed past the keeper’s left hand shoulder before crashing back down off the underside of the crossbar to bounce down in Gillingham’s favour.

“We all thought it was in to be fair,” admitted Turner

“It’s something that we have done before. It’s a bit early for a training ground routines but it is one we’re familiar with and on this occasion it worked and it nearly ended up in the goal.”

Eaves held the ball up down the left and striker Greg Cundle was played in behind Dan Carrington but Overland made a smart block, getting down low to his left to hold onto the shot.

But Gillingham’s winning goal arrived with 21 minutes and 44 seconds on the clock.

Cundle and Mark Byrne linked up before winger Wagstaff burst down the right with a pacy run that Faversham left-back Renford Tenyue couldn’t stop.   The ball was played in low into the box and Eaves drove in a first time shot past Overland to score from 15-yards.

Pinnock said: “Good finish! It was good that Tom has got a goal under his belt, which is always good for a striker for his confidence, to score early doors, so it’s good for him.”

Turner added: “It broke down with our possession, I think we was a little but unfortunate with a couple of bouncing balls that dropped to us. It goes to show the transition side is important. When we lost the ball in that critical area for once, which wasn’t too many times tonight but for once we were a bit stretched and they exploited that very well.”

Overland was forced into making another brilliant save to deny Gillingham a second three minutes after their breakthrough.

Cundle played the ball inside to Eaves, who managed to get the ball out from underneath his feet to get a low shot away, destined for the bottom far corner, but the former Sittingbourne keeper dived to his left and got a strong left-hand to turn the ball behind for a corner.

Turner is delighted to have the goalkeeper back at the club.

He said: “He’s a favourite here. He’s played a lot of games for this football club. We know him well. We’re delighted he’s back with us and his structure and his saves were excellent in the first half.  He didn’t have quite so much to do in the second half but first half he enabled that game to be close, probably a fair reflection on the overall performance of our lads.”

Threatening Wagstaff cut into the box to float over a cross with his left foot and Eaves somehow planted his free header over the crossbar from six-yards.

A rare mistake from Faversham central defender Carrington let in Martin, who set up Eaves and his shot was smothered by Overland at his near post.

Pennock made 11 changes at the break, while Turner brought on former Gillingham striker, the dimulative Sam Lawford, 18, before using all of his substitutes and only Overland and defender Ryan Cooper played the entire 90 minutes.

“I just wanted to maintain our concentration,” said Turner, a firefighter.

“The trouble is with non-league players is they feel like they’ve done a reasonable job and then you’ve got a whole fresh new team to deal with, another group of players who are keen to impress their management team.

“Second half they came out really, really quickly and caused us a few issues.  It was key, for me, to maintain that little bit of organisation and we didn’t allow them to get away from us in the second half.”

Pennock added: “My thoughts are the first 45 minutes was a good 45 minutes for us and there were no injuries and the fitness levels were good and that’s what I want from them.  I had some trialists playing (four names were not listed on the teamsheet), some young players were playing in both halves.”

Gillingham came out flying for the start of the second half, which was a good work out for Faversham’s part-time players who have been at work all week.

Jake Hessenthaler played the ball inside to Josh Wright, who bent his shot around the post from 25-yards, Overland going down on his knees to see the ball just go past his post, after only 122 seconds into the second half.

Josh Parker then saw his half-volley flash past the near post before Elliott List played the ball out to right-back Luke O’Neill on the overlap and his cross clipped Carrington at the near post and struck the underside of the crossbar.

Gillingham left-back Bradley Garmston floated over a deep cross which Parker failed to get his free header on target, which was a consistent pattern for Pennock’s men.

List then teed-up Parker, who curled his shot around the foot of the far post from 25-yards.

Faversham substitute striker Jordan Casey should have done better when the ball was played to him, only to steer a poor shot comfortably wide of the target halfway through.

Overland was called into action when he tipped over Hessenthaler’s drive from outside the penalty area after the midfielder had originally played a short corner to Garmston.

Turner said: “He didn’t have quite so much to do in the second half.  I expected him to make a save like that.  He made another one quite low down, he kept hold on later on in the half was really good because he could’ve spilt it.”

Faversham Town substitute Kyron Lightfoot, who was by now playing on the left flank, cut inside and his right-footed drive deflected off Hessenthaler and looped just over the top of the far post.

But Faversham Town’s best chance of the second half fell to lively diminutive striker Lawford inside the final five minutes.

Casey released Lawford straight down the middle of the pitch and the striker received a lucky break off last defender Finn O’Mara but Gillingham’s last line of defence, goalkeeper Stuart Nelson made a block with his legs.

Pennock said: “It’s not about the result, nothing like that. I just thought it was played in very good spirits and it was a good run-out for both club’s.”

Turner said of the young man that could have snatched his side a draw.

“We got him from Gills, he’s highly thought off amongst the youth coaches there. He’s keen to do well. That was his little moment. The most important thing was that he impressed and he worked ever so hard and he did himself no harm in terms of going forward for the rest of pre-season.”

Faversham Town can take plenty of positives from tonight. The income from the crowd and only losing by a single goal to a club that play five levels higher.

“It was a night for the club really. It was a night for the players, they thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity of playing against League One opposition,” said Turner.

“I’m hoping the supporters have gone away really chuffed with their local club. It's a Friday night occasion, an early half-past-seven kick-off and there were a lot of youngsters in the ground but I just thought it was a nice occasion and a lovely way to start the season off.  Fundamentally it was a way of recognising the achievement off the field as well certainly the boys on the field showed themselves in a good light.”

Gillingham travel to Vanarama National League South side Dartford next Tuesday night.

When asked what he is expecting at Princes Park against Tony Burman’s side, Pennock replied: “Just like tonight really. It’s another good Kent club. Tony’s done a fantastic job there and I’m just pleased to take a team there and hopefully go there with a good attitude again, like we did tonight and get plenty of energy and movement and minutes in our legs and hopefully come away injury free.”

Gillingham avoided relegation by just a point last season after finishing in the bottom five and when asked about last season, Pennock replied: “I’m looking forward, I’m just looking forward, I’m not looking back.”

And when asked about his aspirations, the Gillingham boss replied: “I’m not giving any targets out. I’m not a person who gives any targets out really. All I’m saying, the boys are working very hard pre-season.”

Pennock is keen to send out his younger players to local non-league clubs in order they gain valuable first team experience.

“If they’re not involved early doors then I’ll like to get them out on loan, especially to the Kent club’s because it’s easier for us to go and watch them and that’s why we have a relationship with all the Kent club’s around the area.”

Faversham Town: Simon Overland, Ryan Cooper, Renford Tenyue (Jack Paxman 54), Sam Bewick (Jack Healy 65), Matt Bourne (David Blaikie 54), Dan Carrington (Freeman Rogers 63), Danny Walder (Mobolaji Dawodu 65), George Monger (Kyron Lightfoot 65), Liam King (Sam Lawford 46), Mark Lovell (Jordan Casey 54), Charley Robertson (Luke Griffiths 54).

Gillingham: Tomas Holy (Stuart Nelson 46), Max Ehmer (Luke O’Neill 46), Trialist C (Bradley Garmston 46), Trialist B (Alex Lacey 46), Gabriel Zakuani (Finn O’Mara 46), Trialist A (Jack Tucker 46), Scott Wagstaff (Elliott List 46), Mark Byrne (Jake Hessenthaler 46), Tom Eaves (Josh Wright 46), Greg Cundle (Trialist D 46), Lee Martin (Josh Parker 46).
Subs: Tom Hadler, Noel Mbo, Ben Chapman, Aaron Simpson, Darren Oldaker

Goal: Tom Eaves 22

Attendance: 1,214
Referee: Mr Jack Packman (Margate)
Assistants: Mr Michael Marsh (Herne Bay) & Mr Jack Fagg (Canterbury)
Fourth Official: Mark Cheeseman (Teynham)

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