BRACKLEY 4-3 GILLINGHAM: MATCH REPORT
Goals from Jake Hessenthaler, Scott Wagstaff and Cody McDonald weren’t enough for the Gills, who were knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup on Wednesday, losing 4-3 to Brackley Town.
A Stuart Nelson own goal and a hat-trick from Jimmy Armson secured the win for the Saints, who progress through to round three to face Blackpool.
Justin Edinburgh made four changes to his starting XI from the victory over Northampton at the weekend, with Bradley Garmston, Bradley Dack, Deji Oshilaja and Chris Herd coming in for Paul Konchesky, Frank Nouble, Baily Cargill and Josh Wright.
Brackley had the first effort of the game on three minutes through Lee Ndlovu. The striker struck low from 20-yards, but captain Nelson comfortably saved down low.
Glenn Walker, one of three Walkers on the pitch for Town, was next to let fly from distance, after cutting in from the left-hand side, however his effort failed to hit the target.
The Gills were seeing plenty of the ball in the final third in the opening stages, but couldn’t find that killer pass to release McDonald through on goal.
Brackley took the lead on 17 minutes through Armson. The Saints threw bodies into the box for a free-kick, which the Gills couldn’t clear, and the ball fell to Armson, who converted from 10-yards to make it 1-0.
Walker, who was impressing on the wing for the home side, put the ball on a plate for Ndlovu on 23 minutes after some excellent work down the left, but the striker couldn’t volley the ball into the net with the goal gaping.
The home side were on a high following their opener, and doubled their advantage on 25 minutes. Goal scorer Armson picked up the ball in the centre of the pitch and switched play to Steve Diggin, before sprinting into the box to meet the cross and score his second of the night with a great finish.
Gillingham pulled a goal back on 36 minutes through Hessenthaler. Laurie Walker didn’t do enough to palm Dack’s volley away from goal, from McDonald’s cross, and Hessenthaler squeezed the ball in from an acute angle to half the deficit.
It could have been three for the home side but for some great defending by Max Ehmer, throwing himself to the floor to deny a certain goal from Diggin with 42 minutes played.
The final action of the half came from Town once again, with Diggin racing through on goal with only Nelson to beat on 45 minutes. The striker decided to cut in on his left foot, however, instead of shooting, and the Gills defence recovered to clear the ball from further danger.
The second-half started as the first-half ended, with the home side on the attack. Oshilaja did well to clear Adam Walker’s cross on 56 minutes, recovering well to dive in and volley the ball out for a corner, with plenty of Saints men in the box waiting to pounce on the delivery.
Ndlovu tried his luck from long-range on 61 minutes after controlling Oshilaja’s clearance, but once again couldn’t find the target from distance.
Wagstaff came on to replace Garmston on 66 minutes, and scored to draw the Gills level just one minute later. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’ inch-perfect through-ball found McDonald, who fired the ball across goal for Wagstaff to slot home from just yards out.
The Gills looked a different side after the equaliser and the introduction of Wagstaff, pushing forward and looking to exploit the space between Brackley’s midfield and defence.
McDonald went close for the visitors on 78 minutes, meeting a cross from Hessenthaler and getting a shot away that went just wide of the upright.
Brackley were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box with 83 minutes on the clock, when Ehmer was adjudged to have pushed Diggin. Shane Byrne took the set-piece, and beat the wall, but Nelson got across his goal line to smother the ball.
The Gills were looking for the decisive winner to take them through to the third round, and it nearly came on 86 minutes. Ryan Jackson’s long-throw was cleared by the Saints, but the ball came back to the right-back, whose cross nearly found the unmarked Josh Wright at the back-post. Brackley cleared their lines and held on through three minutes of stoppage time to take the game to extra-time.
Rory Donnelly had the ball in the net in the 92nd minute, however the goal was ruled offside by linesman Marc Wilson, to the dismay of the striker and his team mates.
Town nearly scored directly from a corner kick on 96 minutes, but Nelson denied Walker, tipping over the bar. Brackley took the lead once again from the resulting corner-kick.
Byrne strutted over to the opposite corner flag to take the set-piece. This time, the ball looked to go in directly from the cross, but it was a touch from Nelson in goal that home side the lead.
Armson completed his hat-trick on 103 minutes, curling the ball past Nelson. David Moyo looked to be through on goal, but for a great tackle from Wright, but the ball rolled out to Armson, who finished sublimely in to the top corner.
Extra-time H/T: 4-2
Moyo was nearly on the scoresheet with 107 minutes played. The forward rushed through on goal from a clever pass, but Nelson was quick off his line to deny prevent him making it 5-1 to the Saints.
With seven minutes remaining Mcdonald capitalised on a defensive mistake, taking the ball round the ‘keeper and slotting home to make the score 4-3.
Brackley held on through two minutes of added time to win the game and progress through to the third round of the cup competition.
Extra-time F/T: 4-3
Brackley: L. Walker, Myles, Gudger, Byrne, Graham, Dean, G. Walker, Armson, Ndlovu (Lowe, 104), Diggin (Moyo, 89), A. Walker
Unused subs: Lowe, Pitt, Cox, Farrell, Rankin, Noon
Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Garmston (Wagstaff, 66), Ehmer, Oshilaja, Herd (Wright, 45), Knott, Hessenthaler, Dack (Donnelly, 64), Emmanuel-Thomas, McDonald
Unused subs: Hadler, Wagstaff, Byrne, Pask, Osadebe
Referee: Robert Jones
Attendance: 1,654 (93 away)