A second half goal from Elliott List secures famous victory for Gillingham.
A ferocious, hardworking performance and a late powerful strike from Elliott List gave Gillingham a famous 1-0 victory in the FA Cup third round against Cardiff City of the Premier League in front of a raucous crowd at the Medway Priestfield Stadium.
The teams couldn’t be separated at half-time with the Gills tenaciously getting stuck into their higher ranked opponents. Tom Eaves had the best chance of the half but he headed over from the close range less than five minutes before the break.
Josh Parker went close for the Gills in the second half and just when the hosts thought it might not be their day, List powered home from the edge of the area after typically powerful play from Eaves in the build-up.
Despite a horrendously anxious period of added time where the Bluebirds threw the kitchen sink, Gillingham stood tall and were counted to claim the win.
Gillingham Manager Steve Lovell named just one change from the side that lost in controversial fashion to Southend United on New Year’s Day. List replaced the injured Billy Bingham as Lovell kept faith with his three-man defence.
Neil Warnock named a strong Cardiff XI, with the trio of Captain Sean Morrison, Bruno Manga and Bobby Reid included having started their last Premier League game against title-challengers Tottenham Hotspur.
List was quickly into his stride having a 25 yard shot saved by Smithies after he stole the ball, drove towards goal and got his effort way within 90 seconds.
The first ten minutes were combative as both sides looked to gain the upper-hand. Gilligham did well to defend a Cardiff corner, Tomas Holy claiming the ball amid the giant Bluebird’s centre halves while Eaves was just unable to thread List through with Morrison getting a crucial block in.
The hosts survived their first major scare after a quarter of an hour as an incisive through ball found Bennett clean through on goal but Holy stood tall to make the save. The ball bounced out into the middle of the area with Alex Lacey getting a foot to a goal-bound effort before List raced out to the edge of the area to make another crucial block.
The Premier League opposition were starting to get on top and Ralls had a good shooting opportunity when found in space on the edge of the box but blazed over. Holy then had to be alert to make a save at his near post to prevent Morrison’s stabbed effort from close range after a deep corner was nodded down.
The Bluebirds had a good opportunity from a set piece after Mendez-Laing bamboozled Luke O’Neill with a flick around the corner before drawing the foul on the edge of the box to get the visitors a free-kick on the left edge of the area. Reid drove the ball at pace across the edge of the six yard box but Connor Ogilvie got a crucial head on the ball to deflect it clear.
As the half wore on, the pattern of play grew familiar with Cardiff bossing possession and territory but struggling to break down a stubborn Gills rear-guard action. Damour had another shot but it dribbled wide with Holy untroubled after 36 minutes.
The Gills first real chance since List’s second minute effort came two minutes later as Parker released Bradley Garmston down the left hand side who was dragged back but delivered a cross for Eaves, however the Gills top scorer just couldn’t reach the cross and was flagged offside regardless.
41 minutes in and the big striker had a golden opportunity as List got the ball and played it out wide to Garmston who delivered a brilliant cross from the left that was headed inches over from Eaves as he stretched for the ball.
Manga had a good chance for Cardiff in the final minute of the half as a free-kick found him free in the area but he couldn’t get a clean connection on the header and the Gills could clear to take them into the break all level.
H/T: 0 – 0
Cardiff had the first chance of the half as Gaby Zakuani struggled under a long punt forward and Paterson nipped in between him and Holy, but the keeper made the crucial save.
A foul on Parker down the right hand side gave the Gills a good chance to get a ball in the box which was delivered towards Eaves but just headed clear, before a Mark Byrne effort from a tight angle was narrowly wide.
The Bluebirds continued to knock on the door and Ogilvie had to make a crucial clearance after Eaves miscued his clearance from the front post after a corner for the visitors.
However, the Gills were carrying more of a threat in the second period with O’Neill flashing a shot across goal and just wide after more good hold up play from Eaves.
After 57 minutes Parker had a golden chance to open the scoring after great play gave O’Neill the chance to deliver a ball which was whipped in low to the near post and Parker got across his man but could only flick it over.
Substitute Murphy then had a clear opening as a cute ball in got him in on goal but a combination of Holy and Zakuani managed to bundle the ball behind.
With 68 minutes on the clock Cardiff had two good chances to take the lead but firstly Byrne got back to make a great block on Murphy’s shot before Mendez-Laing dragged wide from inside the box after turning Ogilvie.
A minute later Mendez-Laing went even closer with space on the edge of the area as he curled an effort that rebounded off the bar and away to safety with Holy stranded.
With 80 minutes on the clock, the Gills took the lead in dramatic fashion! A long diagonal towards Eaves was collected by the big striker who ran at goal before slipping the ball back to Garmston who missed his effort, yet it rolled to ELLIOTT LIST who controlled the ball before curling past the keeper.
Murphy immediately went within inches of equalising as the ball dropped to him on the edge of the area and he drilled towards goal but it rolled just wide of the post.
As the game enter added time, Gills went so close to securing the win as a deflected Callum Reilly effort smashed off the bar with the keeper deceived by the late movement.
Despite extra time lasting an eternity, the Gills dug deep to claim a famous victory and progress to the fourth round of the FA Cup.
F/T: 1 – 0
The Gills return to the bread and butter of league action next Saturday afternoon when they travel to take on Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium, as they look to complete the double over the Brewers.
Gillingham: Holy; O’Neill, Zakuani (c), Lacey, Ogilvie, Garmston; Byrne, Reilly, Parker; Eaves, List
Unused subs: Hadler (GK), Simpson, Charles-Cook, Nasseri, Mbo, Rees, Hanlan
Cardiff City: Smithies; Peltier, Morrison, Manga, Bennett; Mendez-Laing, Ralls, Damour (Hoilett, 90), Harris (Murphy, 53); Reid (Ward, 73), Paterson
Unused subs: Murphy (GK), Cunningham, Cox, Humphries
Referee: Mr Tim Robinson
Attendance: 7,090 (642)