The club's `Player of the Year` for the 2019-20 season strikes again as Gillingham progress in the Cup.
Gillingham’s first game since March ended in victory as Connor Ogilvie’s first half header ensured Gillingham progressed to the second round of the Carabao Cup at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium following a 1-0 win over Southend.
Steve Evans featured seven new summer signings in the starting XI with Kyle Dempsey given the captaincy. Christian Maghoma received international clearance to take his place in the team.
The first chance of the game went the way of Southend. Summer addition Jordan Green drove down the left-hand side and cut the ball back to Isaac Hutchinson, but his two efforts were blocked. Hutchinson was to have a very busy afternoon.
The Shrimpers were pressing high and continued to dominate in the early stages at a sun-drenched Prietsfield. Elvis Bwomono was the next man to try his luck from the edge of the box, but Jack Bonham was equal to the effort.
Gillingham’s first chance of the game fell to John Akinde, but the big forward couldn’t direct his header towards goal. The chance came off the back of Gills’ best spell of the game and they were to go one better shortly after.
Gillingham took the lead in the 28th minute through Connor Ogilvie. A corner from Kyle Dempsey was whipped towards the front post and met sweetly by Ogilvie who steered his header in to the far-post.
The goal didn’t stop Southend’s momentum and Charlie Kelman was the next to come close for the Shrimpers, but his powerful effort was struck just past the post.
Attacking an empty Rainham End, Gills nearly added a second shortly after the restart, this time Vadaine Oliver was the man to head narrowly beyond the post.
In what was turning in to a lively opening to the second period Isaac Hutchinson drove at the Gills defence before firing a shot at Bonham.
On the hour mark Gillingham were reduced to ten men when Ryan Jackson was given a second yellow card for stopping a counter attack. Gills could have no complaints about the second booking, but the first booking could be considered harsh.
The red card meant a reshuffle was needed for the final half an hour, and Gills switched to a back four with McKenzie moving to right back and Jack Tucker slotting in at centre back.
With just fifteen minutes left on the clock, Southend came within inches of drawing level. A free-kick from 25 yards was struck sweetly by Hutchinson but the ball hit the frame of Bonham’s goal and bounced clear.
Bonham was to be called in to action once again in added time, this time getting down superbly to deny Lewis Gard. The Gills number one had been a busy man on the first game back after sixth months away.
There was to be one final scare for the Gills when Charlie Kelman struck the outside of the post with a powerful right footed shot which came off the woodwork for a goal-kick.
Gillingham: Jack Bonham, Ryan Jackson, Connor Ogilvie, Stuart O’Keefe, Zech Medley, Kyle Dempsey, Rob McKenzie, John Akinde, Alex Macdonald (Matty Willock 74), Vadaine Oliver (Trae Coyle 67), Christian Maghoma (Jack Tucker 62).
Unused subs: Joe Walsh, Jacob Mellis, Henry Woods.
Southend United: Mark Oxley, Elvis Bwomono, Shaun Hobson, Jordan Green, Timothee Dieng (Lewis Gard 62), Brandon Goodship, Terrell Egbri (Erin Kinali 87), Isaac Hutchinson, Richard Taylor (Stephen Humphreys), Charlie Kelman, John White.
Unused subs: Harry Seaden, Harry Phillips, Miles Mitchell-Nelson
Referee: Mr C Pollard