Victory for Gills in the Papa John's Trophy.
Lewis Walker scored a brace as Gillingham beat Brighton and Hove Albion Under 21’s 3-2 at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Tuesday.
Walker gave Gillingham the lead with a composed finish in the 19th minute. Mikael Mandron got down the left and played the ball across the box for Walker to slot the ball into the bottom corner with an excellent first-time shot.
Brighton Under 21's equalised through Evan Ferguson’s header, and Todd Miller put them in front in the 63rd minute.
Walker brought Gillingham level with his second goal eight minutes later. He bravely headed Cheye Alexander’s cross beyond James Beadle at his near post.
In the 76th minute, Wright won the game for Gillingham with an excellent free-kick. He did a great job curling the ball up and over the wall as his effort found the bottom corner from a tight angle.
Jake Turner started in goal for Neil Harris’ side, while Elkan Baggott returned to the starting XI having been on the bench in Saturday’s win over Sutton. Alex MacDonald, who scored the winning goal in the game, started, as did Lewis Walker.
In the 15th minute, Evan Ferguson had a great opportunity for the visitors. Brighton’s Under 21s caught Gills on the counter-attack, and a through ball was played towards Ferguson, who had acres of space. Fortunately, his first touch was too heavy as it comfortably rolled into the arms of Turner.
Ferguson got into a good position again a couple of minutes later to force Turner into a save. An attempted cutback took a deflection, and it sat up nicely for Ferguson to head goalward. However, Turner did well to get across and catch the header.
Moments later, Walker scored his first goal in a Gillingham shirt. MacDonald played a pass down the left, which Mikael Mandron ran onto. He did well to play a low ball across the box, which found Walker, who showed great composure to slot the ball into the bottom corner with a first-time effort.
Ferguson levelled the scores in the 31st minute with a good header. Sam Packham’s cross towards the penalty area connected with the head of Ferguson, who did well to get enough power to direct his header into the top left corner, leaving Turner with little chance of keeping it out.
During first-half stoppage time, Shaun Williams forced James Beadle into a save. A cross into the box was headed as far as the midfielder, who was on the edge of the box. He struck it first-time on the half volley, but it was straight at Beadle, who made the save.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion Under 21's
Gills started the second half brightly as Hakeeb Adelakun had a good chance. He did well to go beyond a couple of Brighton defenders before cutting back onto his right foot. Adelakun shot across the goal towards the bottom corner, but Beadle did well to get down and push it away. The ball came out to Ryan Law, who saw his effort blocked.
Todd Miller gave Brighton Under 21’s the lead in the 63rd minute. The visitors played the ball across the Gillingham penalty area as Ferguson played the final pass into the direction of Miller, who slotted the ball into the back of the net.
Walker scored his second goal as the visitors' lead lasted eight minutes. Cheye Alexander curled a great cross towards the back post, where Walker gambled to get on the end of it. He bravely directed a header goalward as he squeezed it beyond Beadle at his near post.
Will Wright gave Gillingham the lead five minutes later. Josh Chambers, who replaced Robbie McKenzie in the 68th minute, won a free-kick right on the edge of the box. Wright was the man to step up to take it from a tight angle for a right footer. He did a brilliant job curling the ball up and over the wall as it found the bottom corner.
The action did not stop there as Walker thought he had completed his hat-trick. Wright’s corner was right on Beadle, who could not punch the ball away clearly. It then fell perfectly for Walker to put the ball into the back of an empty net. However, after mass appeals from the visitors, it was ruled out for handball.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 3-2 Brighton and Hove Albion Under 21’s
Gillingham: Turner, Alexander, Wright, Baggott, Law, Adelakun (Kashket 68’), McKenzie (Chambers 68’), Williams (Jefferies 46’), MacDonald (Akehurst 77’), Mandron (Gbode 68’), Walker
Unused Substitutes: Morris, Ehmer
Brighton and Hove Albion Under 21’s: Beadle, Ferguson, Spong, Turns, Tsoungui, Furlong, Packham (Jackson 79’), Moran, Peupion, Miller (Barrington 67’), Hinshelwood
Unused Substitutes: Everitt, Chouchane, Baker-Boaitey, Ifill, Cahill
Referee: Sam Purkiss
Attendance: 838 (53)