Gills Professional Development Academy Manager reflects on Tuesday night's second round victory over Plymouth Argyle

Gillingham’s Professional Development Academy Manager Mark Patterson was delighted to see the club’s under-18s progress into round three of this season’s FA Youth Cup on Tuesday night after beating Plymouth Argyle on penalties at Home Park.

After a 2-2 draw in extra-time, Gills players scored four penalties out of four in the decisive shoot out to set up a home tie against Oxford City at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium in December.

“We knew it was always going to be a close game; we beat them 2-1 in the league last season, and Tuesday’s match was no different. Level at the end of 90 minutes and level after extra-time, we scored four very good penalties and Will [Sykes, Gills goalkeeper] make two good saves to claim the win. Penalties are a lottery, so the result could have gone either way. It was a hard-fought victory.

“Both teams put on a great show, and there were some excellent performances. Plymouth’s number nine, Alex Fletcher, was probably the best centre-forward our lads have played against this season. He gave our lads a hard time.”

The Gills twice came from behind in the game: striker Noel Mbo scored with 180 seconds of Argyle taking a ninth-minute lead, before midfielder Brad Stevenson fired home in the second half of extra-time, 11 minutes after the hosts had gone 2-1 up.

Patterson added: “We probably should have been ahead before Argyle scored on their first attack. But to go a goal down and come back straight away was encouraging. 

“In the first half, we looked a threat. I thought we were the better team, and then it turned on its head after half-time. We had to dig in, they had some chances they’ll feel they should have scored, and it took a couple of great blocks from Finn O’Mara and Danny Divine to keep us on level terms.

“We could have dealt with their second goal better, but Brad’s goal to make it 2-2 was well-worked between him and Henry Woods. After that, I felt we were back on top and we looked like the side most likely to score a third. 

“Penalties are a hard way to decide a game, as somebody’s got to miss. Our players were confident with them, they all knew what they were doing with them, and they didn’t change their mind. Plymouth’s goalkeeper didn’t get close to them.”

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