Two second half goals help the Gills secure their place in round three of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy
Second half goals from Max Ehmer and Bradley Dack helped Gillingham come from behind to beat League Two side Luton Town in the second round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Tuesday evening.
After Cameron McGeehan had given the Hatters a half-time lead, both Ehmer – his first goal since March – and Dack fired home from close range to secure the club's place in Saturday's third round draw.
With competition rules limiting wholesale changes, manager Justin Edinburgh brought Harry Lennon into the starting XI for the first start of his current loan spell, as well as Jermaine McGlashan, Emmanuel Osadebe, Jake Hesssenthaler and Cody McDonald.
McGlashan began brightly on the right wing, however it was Brennan Dickenson who created the first Gills chance of note on seven minutes. The left back made a surging run down his wing, and his teasing delivery into the area forced defender Mark O'Brien into a challenging clearance that looped over the bar.
Dickenson fired over from 25 yards following good play from Luke Norris shortly after, and the pair combined in reverse on 15 minutes, as Norris headed high from the former's free-kick.
McDonald then had a volley deflected over the bar on 24 minutes – no corner was given – while Dickenson unsuccessfully tried to chip Town goalkeeper Mark Tyler from outside the box.
Yet against the run of play, and with their first attempt on goal, the visitors went ahead on 41 minutes. Luke Guttridge's darting run created space for Dan Potts, and his deep cross was headed in at the far post by McGeehan.
And Town nearly doubled their advantage within 120 seconds, but Olly Lee failed to get any power behind his close-range volley.
Osadebe's deflected shot earned the Gills a corner 10 minutes into the second half, onto which Lennon rose well to head, but couldn't find the target.
Only a Lennon block and a Nelson save at full-stretch thwarted Josh McQuoid from double Town's advantage on 62 minutes, as the away side's willingness to play on the break nearly paid off.
However, it was their lapse defending that led to the Gills' equaliser on 65 minutes: the visitors failed to clear their lines twice, which resulted in McDonald having an effort blocked, and from Dickenson's corner, more hesitation at the back allowed Ehmer to fire home.
From McGlashan's cross, McDonald headed narrowly over on 70 minutes, and just as penalties began to loom large, the Gills found a deserved winner seven minutes from time.
Substitute Bradley Garmston did brilliantly on the wing, leaving Scott Griffiths behind on his pacey surge, and his cut back eventually fell to an unmarked Dack, who fired home.
Town defender Potts should have taken the tie to penalties, but the former West Ham trainee sliced wide from 10 yards with time almost up.
The Gills are return to Sky Bet League One action on Saturday, away at Chesterfield, with a Tuesday night fixture on October 20th against Scunthorpe United their next outing at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
Gillingham: Nelson, A Morris, Lennon, Ehmer, Dickenson (Garmston 74), McGlashan, Osadebe, Houghton (Dack 66), Hessenthaler, Norris (Williamson 63), McDonald
Unused subs: G Morris, Wright
Luton Town: Tyler, Lawless, Okuonghae, O'Brien, Potts, Lee (Griffiths 45), Doyle, McGeehan (Green 45), Guttridge (Hall 45), McQuoid, Marriott
Unused subs: Justham, Wilkinson
Referee: Mr M Bull