Millwall prevail following penalty shootout.
Gillingham are out of the Carabao Cup after losing 3-1 to Millwall on penalties at the Den on Tuesday night.
Luke O’Neill was the only Gills player to score his spot-kick in the shootout with Brandon Hanlan, Josh Parker and Mark Byrne failing to find the net.
It was the metaphorical game of two halves at the Den; Gills second best in the first period but after half time they really pushed their championship hosts. Both Hanlan & Regan Charles-Cook came close to giving the Gills the win in normal time, but it wasn’t to be as Millwall went through.
Gillingham made three changes to the side that beat Burton Albion on Saturday. Two-goal hero Tom Eaves returned to the starting eleven while there was a place for both Callum Reilly & Alex Lacey. Fit again Conor Wilkinson made a return to the bench.
Millwall shuffled the pack making ten changes from the side that drew at Blackburn at the weekend, James Meredith the only survivor.
The Gills started the game with Josh Parker playing at the top of the midfield diamond. It was the home side who had first chance, a ball forward caught out Lacey but Tomas Holy was alert to deny Fred Onyedinma a shot at goal. Moments later, Tom Elliott flashed wide from the edge of the box as the home side started on the front foot.
The Gills first attempt of the game came from Eaves following a flowing move from the left. Callum Reilly did well to play in Bradley Garmston, the full-back burst down the left channel and crossed for Eaves, but the striker’s shot didn’t test Ben Amos in the Millwall goal.
Millwall striker Elliott was causing trouble for the Gills defenders and it was his flick on which found its way to Ben Thompson as the home side came close to an opening goal. The midfielder did well with the shot but luckily for the visitors it fell kindly in to the gloves of Holy.
The best chance of the half fell the way of the home side. Following a move down the right-hand side, Onyedinma was once again involved for the lions, this time getting the better of Max Ehmer. As the striker bared down on goal it took a sharp reaction save from Holy to keep the scores level.
As the Gills struggled to click in to the attacking football we had seen on Saturday, Millwall continued to look a threat and Holy was soon called in to action once more, this time keeping out Jiri Skalak. The Czech stopper had to be alert to keep away the low shot following an Alex Lacey clearance.
As the game edged towards half-time the Gills had a one of their few attacking spells of possession. A cross from O’Neill from the right wing, following good build up between Reilly and Byrne, found the head of Hanlan but the forward could only guide his header beyond the post.
Gills had struggled to get going from an attacking perspective in the first half against a strong & physical Millwall side, but the Gills were resolute had been resolute in defence
Neither side made changes at half-time. The second half began with the Gills attacking the travelling fans behind the goal. It was the Gills who had the first chance.
A ball forward was knocked down by the Millwall defenders only to be picked up by Regan Charles-Cook, the midfielder drove at the defence brilliantly only to see his shot parried away by Amos.
The Gills were looking much more of an attacking threat and were putting the pressure on, firstly Brandon Hanlan did well to cut the ball back to Eaves - the striker’s fierce shot getting blocked when it looked to be heading in, before a Luke O’Neill cross only needed a touch and the Gills would have surely taken the lead.
In the 55th minute, Millwall came almighty close to an opening goal, a ball in from the left was headed back across goal by Shane Ferguson and it took a combination of Bradley Garmston and Tomas Holy to keep the scores level.
Gills made their first change just after the hour mark, Captain Callum Reilly being replaced by Bradley Stevenson. The youngster made an immediate impression, driving forward at the Millwall defence before his blocked shot found its way to Eaves, the striker coming within inches of sending the Gills fans crazy behind the goal.
The Gills were to get even closer just minutes later. A long ball forward from Byrne set Brandon Hanlan away at goal. The attacker shrugged of the challenge of Murray Wallace, but his shot rolled agonisingly past the post.
On 73 minutes Barry Fuller replaced Bradley Garmston as the full back made his second debut for the Kent Club and he was soon joined by Conor Wilkinson who replaced Eaves.
Into the last ten minutes and the game was becoming increasingly stretched, Gills were looking a threat on the break. But it was the home side who had the next opportunity, a ball in from the right created an overload at the back post but Tom Elliott could only head over the bar.
Gills had a golden opportunity to take the lead just ten minutes from time; a ball fell kindly for Hanlan, the striker held of a challenge before sliding in Regan Charles-Cook, but the midfielder could only fire wide as he went through on goal.
The Gills were ramping up the pressure and Stevenson was again at the heart of it, driving forward before setting up Josh Parker. Parker turned and shot but a deflection meant Amos was not tested in the Millwall goal.
As the game headed towards penalties Millwall had one last attack, a ball forward nearly split the Gills defence as Lee Gregory burst through but an excellent covering tackle from Barry Fuller saved the Gills from a late defeat in normal time.
The game ended 0-0 and as is with the current set-up in the Carabao Cup the game went to penalties. The Gills had looked much more of a threat in the second half and could have easily have won the game in normal time.
Jed Wallace – Miss
Tom Elliot – Scored
Byron Webster – Scored
Shane Ferguson – Scored
Mark Byrne – Miss
Luke O’Neill – scored
Josh Parker – Missed
Brandon Hanlan - Missed
Millwall: Ben Amos, Conor McLaughlin, James Meredith (Aiden O’Brien 73), Ben Thompson, Fred Onyedinma (Lee Gregory (73) , Shane Ferguson, Byron Webster, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Tom Elliot, Murray Wallace, Jiri Skalek (Jed Wallace 83)
Unused Subs: Jordan Archer, Jake Cooper, Shaun Williams, Mahlon Romeo.
Gillingham: Tomas Holy, Luke O’Neill. Bradley Garmston (Barry Fuller 73), Max Ehmer, Alex Lacey, Callum Reilly (Bradley Stevenson 63), Mark Byrne, Regan Charles-Cook, Josh Parker, Brandon Hanlan, Tom Eaves (Conor Wilkinson 77)
Unused Subs: Tom Hadler, Navid Nasseri, Liam Nash, Aaron Simpson.
Attendance 4401 (560 away fans)
Referee Mr C Breakspear