Gills suffer Youth Cup heartache after going to extra-time at Gander Green Lane.
Gills youngsters were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup on Tuesday evening following a 3-2 defeat to Sutton United at Gander Green Lane.
Jo Gbode and George Hutcheon had put the visitors in front, but a goal before the break from Euan Mutale turned the game on its head, and Sutton scored a second soon into the second period which forced extra-time.
Kai Tanner scored on 93 minutes and, despite a brave attempt from the Gills team, they were unable to force penalties after a strong first-half performance.
Bryan Bull was overseeing proceedings and named Bailey Akehurst at left-back, and as Captain. Jo Gbode was up front with Ronald Sithole in support with Sam Gale in defensive midfield alongside Julian Kuhr.
Gills started brightly but had to be alert defensively twice in quick succession to prevent Euan Mutale testing Tom Crump in goal.
A long goal-kick from Sutton keeper Tobi Fisher was touched on by Elliott Moore; he lost the resulting 50/50 with Kai Tanner who was well tackled by Kuhr. The loose ball ran for Ollie Khinda who fired an effort well wide from 25 yards.
After Sam Gale won an excellent defensive header from a Sutton corner, the Gills broke on the left hand side and won a free-kick in a promising area of the field. Akehurst's delivery was excellent and Jo Gbode got in front of his man before planting a header beyond Tobi Fisher.
And two minutes later the Gills got a second; MacArthur did well to get a low cross into the box and Hutcheon gambled by sprinting to the near post. He got enough contact on his header to get the ball across the line to give the visitors a two-goal advantage.
On 25 minutes, Kuhr released Sithole on the right courtesy of an excellent through pass. Ronald flicked the ball back onto his left side with a smart touch before seeing his effort palmed away by Fisher with MacArthur not quite close enough to slot home the rebound.
Eleven minutes later and Sutton had their best opening to pull a goal back. Gills lost possession in their own third and Mutale decided to try his luck from 20 yards, his effort took a wicked deflection. Crump quickly had to back pedal but was relieved to see the ball land on top of the net, with his defence doing well to clear the resulting corner.
In first-half added time Sutton finally found a way through when the lively Mutale beat the offside trap, got into the box and finished smartly as Crump came to narrow the gap. He found himself in the same position moments after the restart; Giles did just enough to put him off outside the penalty area, with Crump spreading himself well to make a crucial save.
H/T: Sutton United 1-2 Gillingham
A change was made at the interval with William de Wilde replacing Freddie Carter so, as a result, Gale moved to centre-back with de Wilde slotting in at holding midfield.
However, Sutton made their early territory count and got their equalizer within just a few minutes when Casey Shann's left footed cross was headed home by Mutale from just a few yards out.
Gills slowly worked their way into the second half and worked an opening just before the hour when Kuhr's pass through to Sithole resulted in his shot being well blocked, before the resulting corner was dealt with. A Sutton free-kick from 25 yards, taken by Tanner, then struck the bar.
With 69 minutes on the clock Gills worked the ball from right to left, with Akehurst getting forward in support. He went to shoot but instead found MacArthur, his low ball into the box found Gbode who turned well, but fired his left footed effort high and wide of the goal.
The visitors progressively began to force Sutton back and going into the last ten minutes it was Gills who looked more likely to force a winner; Sithole firing wide of the left corner before Akehurst's effort from 20 yards was struck off target.
With seconds to play, Sutton thought they had won it when a left footed effort from sub, Daniel Olayibi, took a crucial deflection before striking the side netting. Sections of the home crowd began to cheer, but it had gone the wrong side of the post with Crump, perhaps, also getting a touch before claiming the resulting corner.
F/T: Sutton United 2-2 Gillingham
With the scores level, an additional 30 minutes was played, but Sutton needed only three of those to take the lead when a pass into the left channel was touched on by a Gills defender, and the ball ran nicely into the path of Tanner who composed himself before finding the opposite corner from inside the box to beat Crump.
Just before the break a Tanner free-kick was headed just wide of Crump's left post, with Kai Garrett having been introduced in place of Matt MacArthur. Garratt went on a strong solo run just before the whistle, beating two men before allowing Hutcheon to take the shot on. He struck from 20 yards, but fired wide.
H/T in E/T: 3-2
Gills threw caution to the wind in the second period, hoping to at least force penalties. An early effort from Mutale was blazed over the bar with Gbode's low shot inside the box gathered by Fisher.
The visitors spent most of the half in Sutton's final third, but couldn't produce the equalizer with Garratt sending an effort from 20 yards over the top in the closing stages.
F/T in E/T: 3-2
Sutton United: Fisher, Charles-Cook, Agwu, Matthews, Manning, Cole, Soulya-Osekongo, Khinda (Fitzgerald 109), Mutale (Mukene 116), Shann (Olayibi 84, Throp 112), Tanner.
Unused subs: Duar, Date, Duncan
Gills: Crump, Moore, Carter (de Wilde 46), Giles, Akehurst, MacArthur (Garratt 99), Sithole (Uzor-Greey), Kuhr, Gale, Gbode, Hutcheon.
Unused subs: Smith, Woodliffe
Referee: Mr N Metcalfe