MANAGER Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was delighted with Burton Albion’s second-half performance as we came from behind to beat Gillingham 3-1 at Priestfield Stadium this afternoon.
An early strike from Robbie McKenzie gave the Gills, under the new management of Steve Lovell and former Brewer Alex MacDonald, an early lead which they held until half-time.
But Tom Hamer’s looped header restored parity for Albion five minutes after the restart, and finishes from John Brayford and Jonny Smith secured a brilliant win in Kent.
Hasselbaink was pleased with what he described an “important” three points, and says it is pleasing that Albion are able to overturn deficits.
“It’s a very, very important three points for us and it was a much better second half than first half,” said Hasselbaink.
“We were not really in trouble, but they had much better play and we lost too many easy balls.
“Because of us, we couldn’t really get a foothold in the game and the second half was much better.
“I don’t know if it was because they dropped off or because we got stronger, I will take it we got stronger but we scored some really good goals.
“That’s very encouraging and it’s good to see that we can come from 1-0 behind to win.
“Now, I don’t want to keep on conceding goals (first)! We could have prevented (the one we conceded).”
Gassan Academe was handed his full Brewers debut and played the full 90 minutes, looking increasingly impressive and causing real issues for the Gillingham defence the longer the game went on.
The former Norwich City man came close to a debut goal too - Tom O’Connor’s well-struck free-kick finding the Albion number 9 but keeper Pontus Dahlberg pulling off a fine reflex save to deny him.
“He hadn’t played a lot of football,” said Hasselbaink.
“I would have taken him off after 70 minutes but I couldn’t because they were pumping balls in and he was getting stronger.
“Later in the game he was holding the ball a lot better and he was unlucky - he had a chance with a good header but it was a good save.
“But I can say he had a really good performance and we’re happy.”
Also making a debut - albeit for the second time - was centre-half Sam Hughes, starting his first game more than a year after suffering a serious knee injury.
And, as with Ahadme, Hasselbaink was considerably impressed by Hughes.
“He came through - what a personality he has, what a unit he is,” said Hasselbaink.
“Especially in a game like this - he likes that physical aspect, he’s that old-fashioned sort of centre-half and we like that.
“We’re happy he’s come through it.”