Thrilling cup tie decided on penalties at the People's Pension Stadium.
Harvey Lintott scored the crucial spot kick in the penalty shootout against Crawley Town on Tuesday to put Gillingham through into the second round of the Carabao Cup.
Daniel Phillips had found the bottom corner with an exquisite volley in the 95th minute to put Gills 2-1 up, only to see Archie Davis score with the last kick of the game to force penalties.
Gerald Sithole, on his full debut, found the net in the fourth minute but Crawley got back into the game early in the second half when Sam Ashford converted from close range following a pin-point cross from Will Ferry.
The first 19 penalties were near perfect for both sides but Crawley’s tenth, taken by Ludwig Francillette, was saved by Aaron Chapman and this left Lintott with the duty of trying to win from 12 yards, which he expertly did.
Steve Evans made six changes for the game, with five incoming players making their full debuts. Bailey Akehurst, Harvey Lintott, Gerald Sithole, Aaron Chapman and Mustapha Carayol were all named in the starting XI with Danny Lloyd, Vadaine Oliver and David Tutonda providing options from the bench.
Kyle Dempsey missed out through injury.
Crawley named former Gills players, Jack Payne and Jake Hessenthaler, in their line-up with Glenn Morris among the subs.
The crowd had hardly taken their seats before Gills took the lead in the fourth minute. A Crawley free-kick, taken by Jack Payne, had been caught by Aaron Chapman and a kick towards the other end of the field sparked the opening goal.
A high ball into the box from Olly Lee saw keeper Blondy Nna Noukeu come out to claim. Sithole did enough to put the stopper off, the ball was dropped and the forward poked home from close range to score on his full debut.
He nearly added a second five minutes later but was inches short of making contact with Carayol’s low cross from the right.
On 17 minutes, Crawley made their first real opportunity of the game when Sam Ashford found Tyler Frost in space on the right hand side of the box; the forward went for goal but missed the target by some distance.
Frost was at it again just after the half hour mark when Hessenthaler’s through pass, at the second time of asking, found the Crawley number 11. His shot struck the side netting, with one side of the ground thinking it had snuck in.
The Crawley man had a very similar chance deep into first half stoppage time, but again struck the side netting.
Crawley started the second half brightly and Frost was involved again immediately, beating the offside trap to be in a position to cross from the right hand side. Ashford however was crowded out by Maghoma and Ehmer and so was unable to get a shot away.
However, a few minutes later, he got the breakthrough for Crawley. Will Ferry had the ball on the left side, delivered a ball right into the heart of the danger zone and Ashford got between his markets to convert from six yards.
This gave the hosts the momentum and they created a few opportunities to take the lead, but were unable to take them with Ferry and Ashford both denied courtesy of strong saves from Aaron Chapman.
With penalties looming, both sides did their utmost to clinch a late winner and Vadaine Oliver, on for Mustapha Carayol, had a decent chance with five minutes to play but his header from a Lintott cross was gathered by the keeper.
A few moments later and Sithole had a golden chance to win the tie. Inside the box he had the ball at his feet, via an accurate pass from Oliver, and the debutant tried to place his shot just inside the right post; he made good contact but guided the shot just inches wide.
In the fifth minute of stoppage time Gills thought they had won the tie when Daniel Phillips smashed home a right footed volley from 25 yards following an initial header from Vadaine Oliver which was only half cleared. The on-loan Watford man struck it first time and sent the visiting fans into uproar.
However, their celebrations were cut short when the hosts found an equalizer with the last kick of the game. Jack Powell’s through pass found the oncoming Archie Davis who tucked home an effort from ten yards with Chapman unable to get his right leg to it.
Crawley converted their first nine penalties, as did the Gills, but Francillette missed the tenth, giving Lintott the chance to win the tie. He stepped up and beat Noukeu to send the visiting supporters wild.
Crawley: Nna Noukeu, Francomb, Craig, Dallison, Nadesan, Frost (Tilley 68), Francillette, Ferry, Hessenthaler, Payne (Powell 88), Ashford (Davies 82).
Unused subs: Morris, Gallacher, Al-Hussaini, Khallel.
Gills: Chapman, Lintott, Maghoma, Ehmer, Bennett (Lloyd 61), Akehurst (Tutonda 80), O’Keefe, Phillips, Lee, Sithole, Carayol (Oliver 70).
Unused subs: Cumming, Tucker
Attendance: 1904 (247 Gills)
Referee: Mr P Howard