Gills out of the Papa John's Trophy following defeat at the Abbey Stadium.
Second-half goals from Paul Mullin and Luke Hannant condemned Gillingham to defeat in the Papa John's Trophy as Cambridge United were victorious 2-0 at the Abbey Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Mullin scored from the penalty spot after Jack Tucker fouled Idris El Mizouni inside the area. Cambridge’s top scorer blasted the penalty into the roof of the net as Joe Walsh dived down to his right.
Hannant grabbed the second ten minutes from time with what was a good finish. He picked the ball up outside the penalty area before drilling a left-footed shot beyond the Gills stopper, who was at full stretch.
Steve Evans made seven changes to the side that defeated Swindon at the weekend. Joe Walsh, Declan Drysdale, Henry Woods, Matty Willock, Alex MacDonald and Trae Coyle all came into the starting eleven, as did Zech Medley who returned from injury.
Jack Bonham, Connor Ogilvie, Rob McKenzie and Vadaine Oliver were the only other players to travel for the game as Gills named a four-man substitutes bench. Josh Eccles missed out due to suspension, whilst Jacob Mellis and Christian Maghoma missed out with illness.
It was a scrappy opening ten minutes to the game with both sides trying to find an opening. Paul Mullin tackled Jack Tucker whilst in possession, but the tackle was too heavy, and it rolled into the path of Joe Walsh who calmly claimed the ball.
Mullin had the first chance of the game but missed the target. He capitalised on a loose ball and tried his luck from 40 yards whilst seeing Walsh off his line. Luckily, the ball went high and wide of the goal as the Gills keeper was left unchallenged.
Alex MacDonald had the first Gills chance, and it came from a Ryan Jackson long throw. Cambridge failed to clear the throw, and it bounced into the path of the midfielder who tried an acrobatic effort, but it went well over the bar.
Trae Coyle had the first shot on target of the game as Gills began to build momentum.
MacDonald’s curling cross found its way to John Akinde, and he flicked it on to Coyle, but his prod at goal was straight at Callum Burton, and a comfortable save was made.
Moments later, Harrison Dunk had a great chance to give the hosts the lead.
Idris El Mizouni got in behind the Gills defence and pulled the ball back across the penalty area to the left-back. Fortunately, his right-footed effort cleared the crossbar.
Scott Robertson had a half-chance in the 36th minute, but his half volley from the edge of the penalty area could not find the target.
Leon Davies had an excellent opportunity to give Cambridge the lead right before half-time. Mullin’s cross towards the back post was met by an unmarked Davies. However, his header across goal was brilliantly cleared off the line by Jack Tucker to keep the scores level.
HALF-TIME: Cambridge United 0-0 Gillingham
In the 52nd minute, Mullin missed a guilt-edged chance to break the deadlock.
Davies got down the right-hand side and drilled a low cross towards an unmarked Mullin. The Cambridge striker had the entire goal to aim at, and he managed to spoon it over the crossbar.
Mullin had another huge opportunity minutes later. Davies was the provider again, and the hosts' top goal scorer hit the outside of the post as he was first to meet the cross with the outside of his foot.
Mullin was at the heart of the action again after the hour mark. He latched onto a long ball and worked his way past Tucker before firing a shot from a tight angle into the side netting leaving Walsh untroubled.
In the 67th minute, Mullin finally had his goal from the penalty spot. Tucker fouled El Mizouni inside the area with a sliding challenge and, having not won the ball, the referee didn't take much time in awarding the spot kick. Mullin stepped up and fired his penalty into the roof of the net, giving Walsh no chance.
Walsh was called into action in the 73rd minute as El Mizouni tried his luck inside the penalty area. He fired a shot towards the front post, and the Gills keeper was equal to it and kept it out with his foot.
In the 79th minute, Luke Hannant scored a great goal to double the lead for Cambridge.
He picked up the ball up 25 yards from goal, turned and then fired a strong left footed effort towards goal which left Walsh with no chance.
It took another goal-line clearance, this time from Declan Drysdale, to keep the score at 2-0. El Mizouni got in behind the Gills defence and flicked the ball over Walsh, and the ball was bouncing into the back of the net until Drysdale came in to clear the ball off the line.
FULL-TIME: Cambridge United 2-0 Gillingham
Cambridge United: Burton, Knoyle, Darling, Cundy, Dunk, Hannant (Iredale 90’), Taylor (May 85’), Digby, Davies, Mullin (Knibbs 80’), El Mizouni
Unused substitutes: Mitov, Dallas, Worman, Neal
Gillingham: Walsh, Jackson, Tucker, Drysdale, Medley, Willock, MacDonald, Woods, Robertson (McKenzie 46’), Coyle Akinde
Unused substitutes: Bonham, Ogilvie, Oliver
Referee: David Rock