The Gills participation in the Capital One Cup ended at the first round stage as Bristol City scored in each-half to secure victory and their place in Round Two.
Gillingham battled well and created a number of half chances and Bayo Akinfenwa
is probably still wondering how he failed to make former England Under-21 international Frank Fielding work in the City goal following a number of headed opportunities in the opening 45 minutes.
Those misses proved pivotal as first Sam Baldock then Jordan Wynter converted the openings presented to them.
Boss Martin Allen made five changes to the starting XI from the weekend fixture against Colchester United in League One with QPR right-back Michael Harriman, who arrived yesterday and looked a bright prospect, selected to make his debut with Callum Davies
, Bradley Dack
, Antonio German
and the aforementioned Akinfenwa also coming in.
The injured Matt Fish
missed out along with Amine Linganzi
, Charlie Lee
, Danny Kedwell
and Cody McDonald
although the latter three were all on the bench.
It was the Gills that had the first shot of the night, this came in the third minute when Dack touched the ball off for Chris Whelpdale
but his effort didn’t really test Fielding.
Almost immediately at the other end Stuart Nelson
had to make a save low down to his left to deny Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.
As the clock ticked into the 13th minute Whelpdale crossed from the right and Akinfenwa rose among a host of players but couldn’t keep his header down from eight yards out.
The Gills continued to create half chances, Whelpdale fired over after Dack had cut a right-wing corner back neatly and moments later Akinfenwa was off target with another header.
Then in the 21st minute the visitors, who had played some neat football without threatening up until this point, took the lead. Some trickery from Emmanuel-Thomas took him to the bye-line and when he pulled the ball back there was skipper Sam Baldock to stab the ball home from six yards.
While City continued to play some controlled football it was Gillingham that continued to create but fail to take their chances. Akinfenwa put one header over and another wide of the target, both from decent Joe Martin
A foul by Leon Legge
on Greg Cunningham two minutes later saw former Cheltenham midfielder line up a free-kick from around 25-yards but he fired straight at Nelson.
In the 38th minute Akinfenwa did well to hold off Liam Fontaine and set up Davies but his low shot was blocked by Flint.
As the half came towards its end some neat footwork from German saw him break into the City area but Fontaine blocked his attempted shot at close quarters. Whelpdale then went close from distance with a rising shot that flew about a foot over the top.
H/T: Gillingham 0-1 Bristol City
Just seconds into the second-half the Gills had a worry when Dack went down holding his left ankle but thankfully he was soon back on his feet.
Six minutes into the second-half Nelson was called into action once again, parrying a low angled shot from Baldock with skipper Adam Barrett
tidying things up.
Akinfenwa received the first yellow card of the evening in the 52nd minute, I think for something he said to referee Darren Deadman following the award of a free-kick. From which Flint rose high to meet the impressive Neil Kilkenny’s ball in but he glanced the ball wide.
Dack chipped over the top after good work from Whelpdale before the young midfielder attempted a more speculative effort that cleared the bar.
The Gills had a double let-off in the 58th minute, Brendan Moloney crossed to the far post and Baldock’s header struck the post and after a touch from Nelson, Wynter saw his close-range header strike the bar.
A double Gillingham substitution followed with strike duo Kedwell and McDonald replacing Akinfenwa and German.
This certainly seemed to boost the Gills fans and the volume from the Rainham End increased, buoyed partly as Dack saw another effort blocked.
That noise quickly subsided however when Sean O’Driscoll’s side went two up in the 65th minute, Emmanuel-Thomas had a shot blocked by Barrett but there was former Arsenal midfielder Wynter to stroke the ball home.
Martin Allen made a third and final change in the 69th minute when Myles Weston
Kedwell had a chance in the 71st minute when he rose at the far post to meet a Whelpdale ball in but he couldn’t steer his header past Fielding.
The lively Emmanuel-Thomas was replaced fifteen minutes from time by former Aston Villa and West Ham striker Marlon Harewood.
A great run by Weston, who left Fontaine lying in his wake, ended with McDonald rising around 10-yards out but Fielding watched as the Gills striker’s header was deflected over.
With the home side probing as they searched for a way back into the game a stretching McDonald hit a low shot straight at the Robins keeper.
Flint became the second recipient of a yellow card in the 81st minute after time-wasting at a free-kick.
A neat short free-kick from Martin saw Steven Gregory
cross to the far post where three City defenders rose with Kedwell. All three were left grounded, much to the amusement of the Gills supporters, and Marvin Elliott who smacked into the advertising hoarding was the last to rise.
Deep into injury time a long, quick free-kick from Nelson picked out the running Kedwell brilliantly but although the centre-forward managed to head over the advancing keeper the City defence were able to get back and tidy up.
At the final whistle it was the 176 travelling fans that were celebrating after their side had turned the tables on the Gills who had won at Ashton Gate at the same stage last season.
– Nelson; Harriman, Martin, Barrett, Legge; Davies (Weston 69), Whelpdale, Gregory, Dack; Akinfenwa (Kedwell 59), German (McDonald 59) Unused subs: Lee, Howard, Butcher, Hare
– Fielding; Moloney, Cunningham (Williams 86), Fontaine, Flint; Kilkenny (Reid 81), Wynter, Pack, Elliott; Baldock, Emmanuel-Thomas (Harewood 75) Unused subs: Wagstaff, Parish, Bryan, Taylor
: 2,585 (176 from Bristol City)
Referee: Darren Deadman
Assistants: Andrew Laver & Nigel Lugg
Fourth official: Nicholas Cooper