Ten man Gills suffer narrow defeat to Ebbsfleet in FA Youth Cup

Gillingham have been knocked out of the FA Youth Cup following a 2-1 defeat to Ebbsfleet United at MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Darren Oldaker opened the scoring with a sublime free kick on 19 minutes before Gills were reduced to ten men when Harry Stannard was dismissed for a late challenge on Mitchell Liddle.

The visitors took advantage of their extra man and drew level midway through the second half via the penalty spot, Karn Miller-Neave converting from 12 yards when Mitchell Welch brought down Shilow Tracey.

And Fleet completed their win with eight minutes to play when Caleb Bearman-Dyce took advantage of a weak back pass to find the net and book the club’s place in the next round.

Notable inclusions for Mark Patterson’s side were Captain Ricardo Thompson who played in the competition last season, along with Noel Mbo who was on the bench for the club’s recent first team game with Scunthorpe.

Gillingham started the game brightly and nearly took the lead inside two minutes, Stannard intercepted a ball to the left hand side and advanced forward nearly 50 yards before playing in Bradley Stevenson.

He cut inside and made space for a shot but team-mate Mbo innocently blocked his effort from 10 yards.

Stannard was involved shortly after, a cross from the right nearly deflected over the head of keeper Rhys Hughes but he did well to back track and tip the ball wide.

However on eight minutes he was given no chance when Oldaker scored a spectacular free kick. From 25 yards he wrong footed the keeper and placed a shot into the top left hand corner with incredible accuracy.

Gills continued to push forward but were nearly caught against the run of play on 19 minutes. A corner was cleared but soon knocked back into the path of Bradley Rudd and his cross was met by the advancing Casey Johnson but his header lacked power and it enabled Newcombe to collect.

A little over a minute later and the Gills were reduced to ten men, a loose ball was making its way to Mitchell Liddle with Stannard for close company.

The forward went in with a heavy tackle, and having not won the ball, the referee had little choice but to show the red card.

However the work ethic didn’t diminish, Stevenson having an effort well blocked before Welch and Thompson saw efforts miss the target.

At the other end Johnson attempted to catch Newcombe off his line but his curling effort went wide with the keeper well placed to save.

He was required again on 39 minutes; a shot from Tracey was well gathered by the Gills number one at his left hand post.

H/T: 1-0

The visitors looked to make their numerical advantage count following the interval, and although they enjoyed a lot of the ball, it was Gills who created the best chances.

Mbo struck the side netting with a powerful shot before Stevenson forced a comfortable save from Hughes low to his left hand side.

Fleet responded with Rudd having two opportunities in quick succession, his first shot was deflected over the bar for a corner with his second well saved by Newcombe.

And the keeper was at it again on 66 minutes; Oliver Boulding looked to bend a shot into the top corner.

The number one sprinted back and appeared to have got a vital touch to push the effort onto the bar, the referee though gave a goal kick.

Leigh Crowhurst was the man in the middle and awarded Fleet a penalty shortly after with Welch bringing down Tracey.

Miller-Neave stepped up confidently and sent Newcombe the wrong way to level the tie at 1-1.

Tracey’s pace continued to cause problems for the Gills defence and on 76 minutes nearly produced an excellent solo goal.

He found space to drive into and with few options either side of him he elected to shoot, narrowly missing the target.

Ebbsfleet’s pressure finally paid off with eight minutes to play – Chapman was running towards his own goal and chose to play back to Newcombe, however the pass lacked pace and with the keeper unable to get there Bearman-Dyce tucked the ball home.

Gills attempted to find an equaliser to force extra time but the visitors stood firm to advance to the second round.

F/T: 1-2

Gills: Newcombe, Welch, Thompson, Devine, Simpson, Oldaker (Crandley 85), Stevenson, Chapman, Stewart, Mbo, Stannard
Unused subs: Sykes, Adams, O’Mara, Lawford

Ebbsfleet: Hughes, Boulding, Miller-Neave, Liddle (Atumonyogo 25), Denny, Stewart, Johnson, Tracey, Nguede, Rudd, Bearman-Dyce
Unused subs: Della Valle, Nourse, Simpson, Tagg

Referee: Mr L Crowhurst