Goals in either half from Darren Oldaker and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas helped the Gills to a deserved win - and clean sheet - against West Brom's under-21s in the final group game of the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night.
Although both sides entered the game at The Hawthorns without any possibility of progressing to the knock-out stages, Oldaker's 30-yard goal seconds before half-time was worthy of settling the competition's Wembley final, while Emmanuel-Thomas's penalty 10 minutes after the break followed his trademark fearless, slow-motion run-up.
There were numerous other positives for the Gills, as Bradley Garmston made his first appearance of the campaign after picking up an injury in pre-season, and Bournemouth loanee Baily Cargill shone on his debut for the Gills in the heart of a defensive three. Young striker Greg Cundle also made his debut as he was introduced as a substitute late on in the game.
Gillingham had the first chance of the game they dominated throughout on seven minutes. Emmanuel-Thomas latched on to a lofted through-ball, skipped past a West Brom defender and struck a wicked shot towards the near post, but goalkeeper Alex Palmer palmed the effort away for a corner.
In a match of few chances, Albion had their first shot on 34 minutes. Kane Wilson charged down the right-wing, beating three Gills players before losing the ball as he approached the box. Rakeem Harper, however, was quickest to react, and shot from the edge of the area, but his effort flew wide of the upright.
Emmanuel-Thomas let fly from the edge of the area on six minutes before the break. The forward was allowed to drive with the ball, with the Albion defenders backing off to track Garmston’s run on the left-wing, but Palmer tipped his powerful wide to keep the scores level.
Garmston looked lively on his return to action, seeing plenty of the ball down the left-hand side in his wing-back role and looking to attack at every opportunity.
The Baggies should have taken the lead with half-time approaching, after Deji Oshilaja failed to clear his lines. The defender’s mis-kick landed at the feet of Harper, who tried lobbing Stuart Nelson from the edge of the penalty box, but the Gills stopper manager to get a strong hand on the ball and retain it.
The Gills took the lead on 45 minutes through Oldaker's second ever professional goal. The 17-year-old received the ball 30-yards from goal, and curled it into the top corner with a fantastic effort, leaving Palmer rooted to the spot.
Ryan Jackson replaced Garmston at half-time, as manager Edinburgh reverted to a 4-4-2 formation. Emmanuel-Thomas nearly added a second for the Gills on 49 minutes, shooting over from 10 yards after clever interplay between Emmanuel Osadebe and Billy Knott.
Gillingham doubled their advantage with 55 minutes played. Referee Nigel Miller awarded a penalty after Knott tumbled in the box following some shirt pulling, and Emmanuel-Thomas coolly slotted home from 12 yards.
West Brom's search for a route back into the game saw Nelson called into action on 75 minutes, saving down low from a curling Rahis Nabi free-kick
Emmanuel-Thomas was the Gills’ biggest threat going forward, and nearly set up striker partner Rory Donnelly on 77 minutes. The club's leader scorer flashed the ball across the goal, but Donnelly couldn’t get the smallest of touches needed to convert the opportunity.
One minute later the Gills found themselves in an identical situation. This time, Donnelly crossed for substitute Greg Cundle, who managed to get his toe on the ball but could work the keeper for a memorable debut goal.
Emmanuel-Thomas tried to replicate his second against Shrewsbury Town in August with just three minutes left, cutting in from the right and unleashing an effort from 30 yards, however Palmer was able to tip over the bar.
Midfielder Mark Byrne had the ball in the back of the net as the fourth official's board went up to indicate three minutes of additional time, but the goal was ruled offside by the linesman.
The Gills return to action at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday (November 12) as they take on promotion-chasing Northampton Town in a Sky Bet League One match. Tickets are now on general sale - click here for more information.
West Brom U23s: Palmer, Wilson, Fitzwater, Donnellan, McCourt, Sweeney, Harper, R Nabi, Elbouzedi (Pritchatt, 71), Bradley (Soule, 85), Forss (Pierce, 60)
Unused Subs: Rose, Piggott, Meredith, Dool
Gillingham: Nelson, Cargill (Dickenson, 61), Garmston (Jackson, 45, [Cundle, 74]), Pask, Oshilaja, Knott, Byrne, Oldaker, Osadebe, Donnelly, Emmanuel-Thomas
Unused subs: Hadler, Hessenthaler, McDonald, Wright
Referee: Nigel Miller
Attendance: Not given