Scout report: Why Hartlepool could spring an FA Cup shock against Gillingham - despite their 11-goal danger man

Gillingham have been in mixed form this season
Gillingham have been in mixed form this season

Hartlepool United continue their FA Cup campaign at Gillingham this weekend - but what should they expect?

Pools dispatched of Kidsgrove Athletic in the last round and will now face a long trip to Kent as they look to continue their cup adventure.

And while Hartlepool are winless in their last three league outings, they should take confidence from their hosts' own inconsistent form.

But what should Matthew Bates be preparing for? Here's everything you need to know about the Gills:

What system will Gillingham play?

Gillingham tend to operate in a 4-1-2-1-2 formation, and rely on their technical ability in the centre of the park rather than overloading wide areas.

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While that can make the Gills vulnerable in wide areas, the shape is fairly flexible and - with attack-minded full-backs - there is still an offering on the flanks, and a good one at that.

Expect Saturday's hosts to try and crowd the middle of the pitch as they seek to get their creative players on the ball wherever possible.

Who are Gillingham's key players?

It's fair to say that one man in particular has stolen the show at Priestfield this season - Tom Eaves.

The former Bolton Wanderers striker has netted 11 times for the Gills this season and has become one of the most-feared strikers in League One after his impressive displays.

But to say Gillingham are a one-man side would be unfair given the talent they have at their disposal.

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Eaves' strike partner Brandon Hanlan has three goals to his name and has impressed up top, while at the back Gabriel Zakauni and Max Ehmer form a formidable centre back pairing.

Do Gillingham have any injury worries?

There are no fresh injury worries for the Gills, who could actually welcome back several players from injury.

Alex Lacey, Bradley Garmston, Josh Rees and Callum Reilly could all return from injury ahead of the cup clash.

Who is Gillingham's manager and what can we expect from them?

Steve Lovell is the man in charge at Priestfield after a stellar playing career which saw him represent Wales at senior international level.

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After spending time at Swansea, Crystal Palace and Millwall, among others, Lovell retired in 2001 and enjoyed a career managing in non-league before taking over the reigns at Gillingham in 2017.

What form have Gillingham been in?

Inconsistent results have been Gillingham's downfall this season, although they have seen an upturn in their fortunes recently.

After a nine-game winless run throughout August and September, Gillingham have picked up two wins from their last six outings - although have lost three games during the same period.

Such inconsistencies see the Gills sat 17th in League One and nervously looking over their shoulders - while a lack of consistent results could prove good news for Pools as they target a cup shock.

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