Under-14s side beat Jamaican side Harbour View in Saturday's play-off
Gillingham FC’s Academy players finished third in the Cayman Airways International Youth Cup on Saturday.
Charlie Blanks opened the scoring in the third-place play-off against Jamaican side Harbour View, before their opponents equalised midway through the second half to take the game into extra-time.
However, the Gills triumphed in the shoot-out, winning 5-3 to take a deserved third place.
Saturday’s match followed a comprehensive 6-3 win in the final group game on Thursday against IFFDC from Dallas, Texas. Goals from Harry Laing, Josh Regan, Jay Hards and a Grant Odejeh hat-trick secured their passage to a Friday semi final against Tottenham Hotspur .
A magnificent effort from the Under-14s group was to ensue: the pulsating game, in which both groups went toe to toe for the 70 minutes of normal time and a further 20 of extra time, somehow ended at 0-0.
During normal time the young Gills had seen Charles Noyelle denied in a one-on-one. He then hit the bar and was denied a goal from a sumptuous 20-yard curling free-kick when he was deemed to have started his approach before the referee had blown his whistle.
Goalkeeper Joe Walsh made a stunning save during extra-time, and Spurs had strong claims for a penalty denied. The game was decided by penalties, with the young Gills eventually missing out on a place in Saturday's final (which Spurs lost 2-0 to Jamaican team Cavalier FC) as they lost 4-3.
Schoolboys Development Manager Bryan Bull was full of praise for his side for their performances. “The boys were magnificent this evening and more than matched their opponents, and with any good fortune would have wrapped the game up in normal time.
“Penalties are part and parcel of tournament football and they will all gain massively from the experiences.”