Craig Stone's U18 squad win dramatic penalty shootout to book their place in national cup final.
Gillingham will play Rochdale in the Youth Alliance League Cup National Final after defeating Peterborough 4-3 on penalties in the regional final on Saturday.
As per the semi-final against Exeter, the game was decided via penalty kicks with Bailey Akehurst scoring the decisive spot kick in sudden death to send the Gills through after a dramatic afternoon’s play, with the tie finishing 2-2 after 90 minutes.
Craig Stone was forced into a couple of changes with George Baker-Moran limping off during the warm-up so Joseph Gbode started up front, however he picked up an injury during the first half so Will Dempsey, an U16, was thrust into the action.
Gills went 1-0 up thanks to Harry Maher’s well placed first-half penalty, only to see Peterborough equalize before the break.
Posh were awarded a penalty themselves early in the second period which was placed beyond the reach of Charlie Walker, but Gerald Sithole ensured the game went the distance when he clinically found the back of the net after going through one-on-one.
Akehurst was designated as penalty taker number six and, with the tie having gone to sudden death, composed himself to find the net and send Gills through to the national final.
Manager Craig Stone said: “I’m really happy; it’s my first full season with this group. They are a good group of hardworking lads that give me everything every day.
“They’ve worked hard to be successful and it’s a credit to them. The youth team here has been a large part of their life and then to be able to say they’ve been to a Final is something that cannot be taken away from them.”
Gills starting XI: Walker, Lintott, Carter, Nelson, Akehurst, Gale, Maher, Medhurst, Smith, Sithole, Gbode (Dempsey)
Subs: Crump, Hutchinson, Moore, Giles.