Gills cause another cup upset by defeating Southampton 3-1 at Priestfield.
Robbie McKenzie continued his fine start to the season, scoring a brace in Gillingham’s shock 3-1 win over Southampton at the Priestfield Stadium.
Gills took a 12th minute lead when Ashley Nadesan scored his first goal for the club. Dom Jefferies did brilliantly taking the ball down the left before playing it across the six-yard box for Nadesan to slide it beyond Alex McCarthy.
McKenzie scored his first in the 52nd minute. Shad Ogie did well to head Cheye Alexander’s free-kick back into a dangerous area. Max Ehmer then flicked it towards goal before McKenzie prodded it past the Saints keeper.
The 24-year-old scored his second following a brilliant strike. Max Clark’s corner was cleared as far as McKenzie, who struck a first-time half-volley into the ground and it flew into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Neil Harris made five changes to the team that beat Stockport County on the opening day of the season. Glenn Morris, match-winner Robbie McKenzie, Max Clark, Jayden Clarke and Ashley Nadesan came into the starting XI.
The visitors almost gifted the Gills an early goal when Romain Perraud played the ball back to his own goal. It was nowhere near Alex McCarthy, but fortunately for Southampton, it went just wide of the post and out for a corner.
Shad Ogie had a good opportunity in the ninth minute. Clarke did well to get down the right wing before being brought down by Jayden Meghoma. Cheye Alexander took the free-kick, curling it towards the back post, where he found the head of Ogie. Unfortunately, he could not hit the target as it cleared the crossbar.
Gillingham were rewarded for their bright start in the 12th minute when Nadesan gave them the lead. Dom Jefferies made a run down the left, getting beyond a couple of Southampton defenders before playing a testing ball across the face of the six-yard box. Nadesan did well to peel away from his marker before sliding the ball into the back of the net.
The hosts continued to cause Saints issues from set pieces as Ethan Coleman came close. Clark curled a corner towards the centre of the box from the left, finding the head of the oncoming Coleman. He made solid contact with the ball, but it was too much as it went over the bar for a goal kick.
Sam Amo-Ameyaw called Morris into action in the 33rd minute. He had space to cut inside on his left foot and shoot, but it took a deflection on its way to Morris, making it a comfortable claim for the goalkeeper.
Sekou Mara rattled the woodwork moments later. The ball was played towards the six-yard box, but Ogie made the block, forcing the ball to flick up. It sat nicely for Mara to strike a fierce half-volley from close range. It beat Morris but hit the frame of the goal before bouncing away from danger.
Gillingham thought they had made it two during first-half stoppage time. Clark curled a corner into the box from the left, finding the head of McKenzie. His header got beyond McCarthy and found the back of the net. However, it was disallowed for a foul.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 1-0 Southampton
McKenzie got his goal seven minutes into the second half. Alexander played a free-kick deep into the penalty area, finding Ogie at the back post. He headed it back towards the six-yard box, where Ehmer flicked it goalward. McKenzie got the final touch, prodding it beyond McCarthy.
McKenzie scored his second of the game with a brilliant goal in the 66th minute. Clark’s corner from the left was headed as far as McKenzie, who struck a half-volley into the ground. It left McCarthy with no chance as it flew into the bottom corner, making it three-in-two for the Gills man.
Alexander did brilliantly to preserve Gillingham’s three goal advantage by denying Carlos Alcaraz. The ball dropped to the Southampton man inside the box, and he smashed it goalward. However, Alexander flew in to provide the big block to send it over the crossbar.
Tom Nichols, Scott Malone and Jonny Williams came on in the 71st minute to replace Nadesan, George Lapslie and Jefferies respectively.
The hosts almost had a fourth ten minutes later. After a good passage of play, the ball was played out to Malone down the left, who curled a cross into the penalty area. It found Nichols, who had peeled away from his marker, and he volleyed it goalward. The substitute made great contact with his effort but was denied by a strong McCarthy save.
Alcaraz pulled a goal back for the visitors in the 89th minute. He received the ball 20 yards out before shooting. It took a deflection on its way to the goal as it found the bottom corner.
Alcaraz hit the side netting during stoppage time, curling a free-kick to the right of the goal towards the near post. Fortunately, it left Morris untested as it went the other side of the post.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 3-1 Southampton
Gillingham: Morris, Alexander, McKenzie, Ehmer, Ogie, Clark, Coleman, Jefferies (J.Williams 71’), Clarke (Gbode 84’), Lapslie (Malone 71’), Nadesan (Nichols 71’)
Unused Substitutes: Turner, Malone, Gale, Chambers, J.Williams, Nichols
Southampton: McCarthy, Bree, Lyanco, Charles, Perraud (Alcaraz 58’), Meghoma (Dibbling 85’), S.Armstrong (Aribo 46’), Djenepo, Amo-Ameyaw, Adams (Onuachu 68’), Mara (Doyle 46’)
Unused Substitutes: Lumley, Stephens, Edozie, Ballard
Referee: Carl Brook
Attendance: 7775 (1775 away fans)