THE MILLERS to give high flyers vertigo
when Myles Weston latched onto Elliott Hewitt’s through ball to slot past Adam Collin to put the hosts in front 12 minutes after the break, it was arguably what they deserved.
Weston nearly added a third shortly after, but Collin did well to tip his powerful near-post effort wide.
This is when the Hitchcock show started. Introduced on the hour mark, the on-loan QPR forward had only been on the pitch for nine minutes when he beat the offside trap to coolly finish from six yards to make it 2-2.
Just as United were getting closer to a third, Bradley Dack capitalised on a mistake from Kari Arnason to put the Gills back in front with a bril- liant chip with six minutes remaining.
However, Hitchcock equalised again barely a minute later with a neat finish after Adam Barrett mis-hit his clearance, and completed his hattrick in the first minute of stoppage time with a brilliant curling lob.
This triggered a celebration from Evans that was reminiscent of that of another United manager (and fellow Scot), Sir Alex Ferguson, when the latter’s team clinched their first Premier League title in 1993. “My substitutions are normally awful but that’s the substitution of all time that one,” joked Evans afterwards.
“He [Hitchcock] looked particu- STAR MAN TOM HITCHC
am larly bright in the reserves on Monday, and there was a thought to start him, but the team’s been going so well we left him on the bench.
“He’s a young man who’s going to play at a good level and he’s got a fantastic hat-trick.
“Did we deserve to win yes by a country mile? Yes, we did.We’ve got a goal in 12 seconds then Lee Frecklington’s brought down in the box and we should have had a penalty but the referee’s apologised to us at half-time so we’ll give him credit for that.”
Evans ended his afternoon speaking to Kent Police, and although United declined to comment on the incident, it is believed it is to do with the reception he received from home fans.
The Gillingham players also felt aggrieved after the game; they believed that Hitchcock’s first and third were scored from offside positions.
Taylor added: “You’ve still got to make people earn what they’re going to get. We deserved to get something. Our work rate was brilliant, character fantastic, but defensively we were poor.
“It’s frustrating; we knew we were playing a good team, who create lots of chances and are in good form. As much as they’re a good team, they got some easy goals because of some poor defending by us.”
GOAL RUSH: Adebayo Akinfenwa scores for Gillingham. Right: Tom Hitchcock scores Rotherham’s second goal