Toby Bancroft comes off the bench to net twice as Gills come from 2-1 down to secure victory over Chatham.
Toby Bancroft proved the super sub on Friday evening as the Gills came from 2-1 down to beat Chatham 3-2 at the Bauvill Stadium.
The Chats were playing their first game on a new pitch which had been put down just days before the fixture, and looked on course for victory when Harry Harding and Leon Smith cancelled out Henry Woods excellent long range effort in the first half.
However the Gills fought back and Bancroft netted twice in just a few minutes, one from the penalty spot, to give the visitors a deserved win.
Craig Stone named a very young side for the game with Josh Rees, Henry Woods and Roman Campbell the only professionals involved.
Chatham fielded a couple of familiar names with Jack Evans and George Sheminant in the starting XI with Jude Arthurs and Matt Bodkin on the bench.
An early cross from Evans nearly caught out Charlie Walker in the Gills goal but he corrected his footing and got enough on the ball to stop it crossing the line. Campbell headed narrowly wide before Henry Woods unleashed a powerful effort into the top left hand corner from 25 yards which gave Dan Ellis no chance at all, and the keeper could only watch the effort fly past him. 0-1.
A sensational goal from Woods who was back in his preferred position having played right-back against Dartford on Tuesday.
The visitors were controlling play but not able to make the most of their possession and territory. A ball across the face of goal from Jimmy Witt just needed a delicate touch but no-one had gambled into the six-yard box, and Chatham survived.
On the half hour mark the scores could quite easily have been level when Harry Harding received a low pass from John Pilbeam and he made space for a shot. The striker looked destined to beat Walker but a last ditch block ensured the Chats had to settle for a corner, which was headed just wide.
Prior to the interval Michael Hagan went close for Chatham with Ben Allen forcing Dan Ellis into action following a good run from Tommy Lamb.
Chatham looked a lot livelier after the interval and were 2-1 up within 20 minutes. Charlie Walker had made a fantastic save to keep Gills in front but moments later Harry Harding finished clinically following a good move on the right hand side of the penalty area. 1-1.
Ellis denied Rees from close range, the resulting corner was cleared and Chatham were up the other end in seconds and won a corner themselves. Leon Smith, who had just come on, was unmarked inside the six-yard box and headed beyond Walker who stood no chance. 2-1.
Gills made a few changes after that with Roman Campbell, Henry Woods and Gerald Sithole all making way for the likes of Toby Bancroft, Jay Hards and Harry Laing.
And it didn’t take long for the young trio to make an impact with Bancroft drawing the game level on 71 minutes. The ball found the forward on the far left of the penalty area and he produced an excellent strike to beat Ellis who was at full stretch. 2-2.
The winger got his second soon after from the penalty spot, cooly beating Leon Smith who had to go between the sticks with Ellis having gone off injured. 2-3.
Chatham threw bodies forward in the closing stages but the Gills defence, along with Walker, remained alert to see out the rest of the game.
Gills: Walker, Lintott, Baker, Nelson, Witt, Rees, Woods (Bancroft 66), Lamb, Sithole (Trialist 66), Campbell (Hards 66), Allen (Laing 66).
Unused subs: Maher, Baker-Moran, Medurst.
Referee: Mr N Dunn