FA Youth Cup Report: Gillingham 1-2 Portsmouth (AET)

Portsmouth through to second round of Youth Cup.

Portsmouth came from behind to knock Gillingham out of the FA Youth Cup in the opening round on Tuesday evening at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.

Gills suffered a 2-1 defeat having taken the lead early on thanks to a penalty from Leroy Hlabi.

However the visitors progressively got a foothold in the game and levelled things up through Matt Mayes before the same player struck in the first half of extra-time to put Pompey ahead.

Gills rallied late on but failed to beat Jack Collins for a second time.

Mark Patterson fielded Ryan Huckle and Jack Tucker in defence, the latter having made his first team debut earlier in the season against the same opposition. Jason Gildea joined Hlabi in attack.

Gillingham stormed out of the traps with a high tempo and immediately tried to take the game to Portsmouth. An early run from Henry Woods was halted, but after winning a throw on the left wing Hlabi found himself in the box towards the byline, and attempting to round the goalkeeper he was brought down which gave the referee no choice but to award the penalty.

The young striker sent Collins the wrong way to put the hosts in front.

Portsmouth tried to find a way through a very organised Gillingham defence but couldn’t produce the final pass required, while at the other end Gills remained dangerous on the counter attack particularly through Jack Conway on the left wing.

TJ Bramble went close with a header following an excellent cross from Arnold before Tucker had a header blocked inside the area.

The equalising goal came on 27 minutes. A cross from the left hand side was called for by Catherall, he went to palm the ball clear and unfortunately for him it came off Matt Mayes who claimed the final touch as the ball rolled over the line.

Portsmouth, who had looked brighter just before scoring, seized the initiative and enjoyed more of the possession prior to the interval. Tucker did well to stop the ball crossing the line as Catherall narrowly missed out on clearing a high ball into the box; Huckle was then on hand to clear a follow up attack as Gills did their best to prevent a second goal.

H/T: 1-1

Gillingham started the half well and progressively looked more comfortable in possession; although chances were few and far between. Gildea’s cross nearly caught out Collins before Huckle saw his header saved by the Portsmouth stopper from the resulting corner.

However the visitors looked threatening on the counter and nearly found themselves in front on 61 minutes. Lethbridge, on at the interval, went on a surging run on the left hand side and made his way to the byline where he attempted to play in Mayes.

The ball was behind the striker but he recovered well and played a short pass to Jack Chandler who saw his effort blocked.

On 78 minutes the visitors created an opening when Chandler delivered an excellent cross to the far post where Mayes was arriving at speed. The striker beat Catherall to the ball but from a tight angle he couldn’t find the net.

Seven minutes later and substitute Oscar Johnston, on for Chandler, took on his marker and cut inside before sending a left footed effort narrowly wide of the right post with keeper Catherall at full stretch.

Last gasp efforts to prevent extra-time from both sides failed to produce a goal, which ensured the tie would continue for an extra 30 minutes.

F/T: 1-1

Within the first couple of minutes both teams had chances within sixty seconds of each other. Firstly Woods stung the palms of Collins from 20 yards before Mayes was brilliantly denied by Catherall. With just the keeper to beat Louie made himself big and saved the shot with the inside of his legs before the ball struck the bar.

Dan Smith had a follow up shot which was well wide of the target.

However Portsmouth finally found the breakthrough in the 103rd minute; Mayes found space on the right hand side of the penalty area, he drifted off to allow a pass to his left hand side and picked his spot before clinically finding the back of the net.

After the break Gills surged forward to try and force penalties at the very least; Woods saw his free-kick sail over the bar before being sent off for, what appeared to be dissent.

Catherall’s late kick forward was headed on by Tucker before being shielded out for a goal-kick. The whistle sounded shortly afterwards.

F/T: 1-2 (AET)

Gills: Catherall, Scarlett, Huckle, Tucker, Arnold, Bramble (Arthurs 84), Woods, White, Conway (Laing 117), Hlabi, Gilea.

Unused subs: Walsh, Sheminant, Noyelle.

Portsmouth: Collins, Brooks, Hancott, Read, Dandy, Casey, Whiting (Lethbridge 46), Chandler (Johnston 83), Mayes, Smith, Maloney.

Unused subs: Pitman, Mnoga, Flint.

Attendance: 217

Referee: Mr D Bandara