Folkestone Invicta 0-4 Gillingham
Folkestone Invicta 0-4 Gillingham

Gillingham’s build up to the new SkyBet League season continued with a four goal victory at the Fullicks Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

For Isthmian League Folkestone Invicta it was an afternoon when they clearly needed finishing lessons from their visitors as the Gills ran out convincing if a little uncomfortable winners courtesy of first half goals from Nathan Thomas and Mikael Ndjoli with Brandon Hanlon’s penalty and trialist Mikael Mandron’s late tap in but for an hour, the home side created enough chances were perhaps they should have kept pace with their opponents.

It all started so well for Steve Evans side as Thomas fired them into a second minute lead with a shot that home keeper Tim Roberts would have been disappointed to have conceded.

The home side replied well and Jerson De Santos (who later in the day was to formally sign for Neil Cugley’s side) forced Alfie Jones into a goal-line clearance, whilst at the other end, Roberts redeemed himself somewhat with a smart save to deny Hanlon.

The Gills striker then went even closer as an effort did beat Roberts but saw former Gill Finn O’Mara clear off the line – somewhere in the build-up, Folkestone defender Matt Newman was injured and had to be replaced after treatment.

Folkestone had two glorious opportunities either side of the half hour but were unable to take either. Scott Heard delayed shooting far too long after De Santos had been fouled by Max Ehmer, before in their next attack De Santos and striker partner Johan Ter Horst brilliantly exchanged passes through the Gills defence only for Ter Horst to drill across the face of keeper Jack Bonham’s goal. The Gills then doubled their lead just before the break as Hanlon dispossessed a  defender before unselfishly pulling the ball back for Ndjoli, who side footed home.

But still Folkestone kept coming at their opponents – De Santos this time shot wide after another good passing move tore the Gills defence apart before with the half’s last action, Ter Horst’s header clipped the bar after De Santos had been denied by Bonham.

The second half was a more comfortable for the Football League side as it seemed that the home sides run of games this week – they previously faced both Dover Athletic and Maidstone United.

Indeed, with the half’s first real chance it was three nil. Bradley Garmston (who was a half time sub for trialist Joe Scarrs who had previously played for the Gills boss and only joined the group late in the week) played a great ball into the box for Hanlon, who was fouled by Nat Blanks leaving referee Dunn no option but to point to the spot.

Hanlon duly picked himself up and drilled the penalty beyond Roberts and into the bottom corner.

That proved to be the signal for the mass Gillingham change with ten substitutions and the fresh legs combined with the tiring ones from the home side saw the Gills see out the game.

Regan Charles-Cook saw a low drive that tested Roberts as the second half Gills dominating the game with towering midfielder Ouss Cisse imposing himself in more ways than looks. The holding midfielder at six foot five, the Mali international towered above his teammates who joined him – messers Byrne, Oldaker and Charles-Cook.

The Gills completed the scoring eight minutes from time when Elliott List did well down the right, and his centre fell for trialist Mandron who side footed home to cap an impressive first outing.

With respective seasons approaching, both managers can take a lot out of this enjoyable afternoon as their preseason campaigns continue at Faversham Town and at Dartford (both on Tuesday) respectively.

Folkestone Invicta: Roberts, Vincent, Blanks, Newman (Dickens 24), O’Mara, Everitt (Hasler 58), Heard (Jones 83), Draycott (Paxman 53), Ter Horst (Okoh 79), Dos Santos, McCann

Subs – Morgan & Price

GILLINGHAM – Bonham (Walsh 60), Hodson (Fuller 60), Scarrs (Garmston 46), O’Keefe (Cisse 60), Ehmer (Ogilvie 60), Jones (Tucker 60), Thomas (Byrne 60), Willock (Oldaker 60), Hanlon (Charles-Cook 60), Ndjoli (Mandron 60), Reilly (List 60)

Goals – Thomas 1, Ndjoli 39, Hanlon 59 pen, Mandron 82

Referee – Dunn

Assistants – Black & Bonneywell (fourth official Cruise)