Ben White's side deliver excellent performance to defeat Blackburn.
Gillingham have advanced to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup after an excellent 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on Wednesday night.
TJ Bramble’s penalty, followed by an Emmanuel Fernandez header early in the second-half, put Gills in the driving seat, and although Luke Brennan pulled one back shortly after the hosts were unable to find a way past Joe Walsh for a second time in what was an excellent performance by the Kent club.
Ben White named the same team that defeated Cheltenham Town 4-0 in the second round, meaning Ben Allen, Charles Noyelle and Jude Arthurs lined up behind sole striker Roman Campbell with TJ Bramble and Tommy Lamb protecting the back four.
Joe Walsh started in goal.
Although Blackburn enjoyed the very early possession in the opening couple of minutes it was the visitors who created the first opportunity on six minutes. Gills played some nice Football in the middle of the park and Jack Morrell got forward and received the ball in space 20 yards from goal; his left footed effort was well struck but just wide of the right post.
Aside from a toe poke beating Walsh and comfortably leaving the field of play, it was all Gillingham for the next 10 minutes and they had a half chance on 12 minutes when Campbell received the ball on the right side of the box; Arthurs was in space to his left and on receiving it was in two minds what to do and his effort was easily gathered by Ben Winterbottom.
Campbell very nearly opened the scoring himself a few minutes later. Arthurs won a free-kick and with many expecting Noyelle to strike it, the forward hit one with his left foot which just went wide of the target with the keeper at full stretch.
However, on 28 minutes Gills did finally get the goal that their efforts warranted. Bramble was judged to have been fouled just inside the box. The man himself got up, placed the ball on its spot and found the bottom right corner.
Both sides had half chances before the end of the half but both defences stood firm and blocked respective efforts, with Arthurs going closest just before the interval.
Gillingham continued to play in the same entertaining fashion and, after Scarlett’s appeals for a penalty had bizarrely been waved away, the visitors grabbed a much needed second goal. Campbell headed the ball back across goal, a Blackburn player headed off the line from a resulting touch but when the ball was played back in again Fernandez steamed in and buried his header from six yards.
The two goal advantage was short lived though, with Blackburn finding a way back into the game on 57 minutes. Brennan’s right footed corner from the left side was whipped in, over the head of everybody including keeper Walsh, and into the opposite corner.
For the next five minutes Gills were put under serious pressure and Brennan came very close to a second but blazed his shot over the bar from close range. Noyelle saw a shot deflected over for a corner before Walsh was fortunate to win a free-kick when a 50/50 challenge between himself and sub Jack Vale when the visitors way.
Vale was involved again soon after when a cross from the right was headed narrowly wide by the striker. With Blackburn throwing more men forward they nearly got their equaliser with 12 minutes to go. A cross from the right wasn’t cleared by Fernandez and Brennan cut inside before placing an effort over the bar from close range before Walsh blocked an effort at his near post.
The hosts gave it everything in the closing stages to try and force extra-time, and they very nearly did when Sam Durrant’s low strike went agonisingly wide of the left post. However, Gills dug deep and booked their place in the next round.
Blackburn: Winterbottom, Enzo Boyomo, Garrett, Connolly (Vale HT), Barnes, Pike, Whitehall, Wilson, Burns (Durrant 70), Piliukaitis (Baker 82), Brennan.
Unused subs: Zimba, Eastham.
Gills: Walsh, Scarlett, Fernandez, Sheminant, Morrell, Lamb (Bancroft HT), Bramble, Arthurs, Allen (Hards 77), Noyelle (Laing 90), Campbell.
Unused subs: Walker, Blanks
Referee: Mr L Dawson