Steve Lovell praises Leyton Orient after giving Gillingham nervy finish in FA Cup clash
PUBLISHED: 10:00 07 November 2017
Simon O'Connor Photography
Caretaker boss impressed with O’s second half display, but happy with Gills for overcoming their National League opponents
Gillingham caretaker manager Steve Lovell was pleased his team managed to handle a difficult second half period to overcome Leyton Orient on Saturday.
Josh Parker opened the scoring for the home team in the first round of the FA Cup at Priestfield Stadium in the 20th minute, but they were unable to build on it.
Lovell’s team should have come in further ahead at the break, but didn’t and the O’s changed formation to good effect.
Steve Davis switched from a 5-3-2 to a 4-1-2-1-2 and saw Orient create plenty of chances, but Tom Eaves doubled Gillingham’s lead and although James Dayton pulled one back, it finished 2-1 in Kent.
“I said it would be a tough game and it proved that way in the second half. It was important we kept focused on what we wanted to do,” said Lovell.
“We started very well and the first half was going to plan, but you have to give credit to Orient.
“In the second half they changed their formation and made a couple of substitutions and it seemed to work for them.
“They got into the game and that’s what football is all about. You have to deal with things when the opposition do get a stage when they are on top and it is how you deal with it.
“In the end we managed to deal with it very well and got the second goal and I thought that would push us on again.
“They obviously got their goal and it gave them a lift so it was a bit nail-biting in the second half.”
Eaves’ effort in the 74th minute appeared to knock the stuffing out of Orient after a good spell.
But Dayton pulled one back when his free kick evaded everyone and found the bottom corner to set up a grandstand finish.
O’s went close, yet had to settle for a impressive second half performance in a 2-1 FA Cup defeat.
Lovell admitted he was anxious before facing the National League team, adding: “It was always going to be a tough game.
“I was more nervous before this one because of the nature of it compared to Wigan Athletic or Peterborough United.
“When you are up against an underdog, the other team has nothing to lose and you know they will throw everything at you.
“In the second half they did that, but by then the game should have been dead and buried and we should have been miles ahead.
“But fair play to Orient, as I have already said, because they came back and I thought they played very well in the second half.”
The O’s will now look to take that type of display into the National League and move up the table.