Gills boss hails new striker

Gillingham boss Andy Hessenthaler began his second spell in charge of the club with a 1-1 draw at home to Cheltenham in League Two.The Gills visit Carrow Road for tomorrow night's Carling Cup first round tie less than four months after being beaten 2-0 on the same ground in the game that clinched the League One title for the Canaries.

Gillingham boss Andy Hessenthaler began his second spell in charge of the club with a 1-1 draw at home to Cheltenham in League Two.

The Gills visit Carrow Road for tomorrow night's Carling Cup first round tie less than four months after being beaten 2-0 on the same ground in the game that clinched the League One title for the Canaries.

Now the clubs are two divisions apart but Hessenthaler was encouraged by Saturday's display, despite dropping two home points.

He was without City striker Cody McDonald, ruled out by a foot injury, but reserved praise for debut-making striker Adebayo Akinfenwa and midfielder Jack Payne. The pair combined for the equalising goal with substitute Akinfenwa latching on to Payne's throw-in to head home.


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Hessenthaler, who was named as Mark Stimson's replacement in May to begin his second stint in charge of the club, said: “The boys gave me everything, we were a bit nervy as it was the opening day.

“We have a few things to work on - especially defensively - but all in all it's a decent result. When we got the ball down, you can see that we're going to be a very good team

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“Young Jack Payne in the middle was outstanding for me, my man of the match, and he's got a terrific future ahead of him.”

Akinfenwa, 28, signed from Northampton, was delighted to open his Gillingham account and promised the club's fans there is more to come once he gains full fitness.

He said: “I'm happy to score. Strikers are always judged on scoring goals. I'm a bit disappointed with the result, I felt we were the better team out there and should have taken all three points. But we take the positives, there was a good team spirit and we kept on going until the very end.

He said: “The gaffer and physio are working me and that game will have done me the world of good.

“The complete Akinfenwa will be

there soon.”

Tomorrow night's tie will be refereed by Billericay official Andy D'Urso, whose last two matches involving the Canaries have been marked by bitter controversy.

In the Championship game at Bristol City in March 2008, he awarded a controversial stoppage-time free-kick from which the Robins scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 win.

Then in February 2009, D'Urso sent off City defender Gary Doherty and awarded Bristol City a penalty that contributed to their 2-1 win at Carrow Road. Doherty's red card was rescinded on appeal.

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