Gillingham manager Stephen Clemence praised his side’s character as they overcame underdogs Hereford 2-0 to progress in the FA Cup.
Jayden Clarke’s deflected goal gave the League Two side a first-half lead before Tom Nichols’ late penalty sealed their passage into the second round.
“The boys have shown great character,” said Clemence. “I didn’t feel Hereford really opened us up, although there was pressure.
“I felt I learnt a lot today in circumstances which could have become difficult.
“The players with their character didn’t let that happen. They stood firm and I’m really pleased. The players have been fantastic with me.
“They know it’s my first time as a number one. I’ve had to do some things this week that I’ve never done.”
Clemence’s reign as Gillingham boss got off to a perfect start when Clarke’s 23rd-minute effort took a wicked deflection past goalkeeper Curtis Pond and into the net.
Paul Caddis’ side sensed an equaliser and almost found it in the second half but Ethan Freemantle fired wide twice.
However, with four minutes left on the clock Nichols hit Hereford on the break, running through on goal before being judged to have been clipped by goalkeeper Pond.
The experienced forward regained his composure to score from the penalty spot.
Hereford manager Caddis claimed the referee made the wrong decision over the late penalty.
“We’ve just had an apology for the (awarding of) the penalty,” said Caddis who was watching from the stands due to serving a one-match suspension.
“The referee has got it wrong. An EFL official and we’ve been let down. That’s not taking anything away from Gillingham. Over the course of the game they probably deserved to win.
“It’s difficult when you play against teams a level above you who are full-time. We’re a fit group, how fit we are I’m incredibly proud of as we only get four hours (of training) every week.
“I’m extremely proud of every player.”