Gills eliminated from the Bristol Street Motors Trophy following a 1-0 defeat to Fulham U21.
Aaron Loupalo-Bi scored the only goal of the game as Gillingham were eliminated from the Bristol Street Motors Trophy following a 1-0 defeat to Fulham U21 at Priestfield.
Stephen Clemence made ten changes from the FA Cup win at Hereford for Gillingham’s final group stage fixture.
Glenn Morris started in goal with Ike Orji coming in at right-back. Lewis Walker made his first start for the club this season after returning from his loan at Woking, with Tom Nichols leading the line alongside him.
Tim Dieng made his first start since his injury against Grimsby in September, with Josh Chambers and Matty Macarthur also named in the XI.
Imani Lanquedoc had an early chance when he took the ball around an oncoming Morris as the visitors looked to take advantage of their early possession. Fortunately for the Gills, the Fulham Under 21 forward could not capitalise as he took the ball too wide.
Max Ehmer forced Steven Benda into a save in the 16th minute. Max Clark’s free-kick from the right was flicked goalward by Ehmer. Benda could not claim the attempt with the oncoming challenge from Nichols forcing the goalkeeper to push it out for a corner, which came to nothing.
Luke Harris came close moments later when a cross into the Gillingham penalty area was cleared as far as the midfielder. However, his left-footed effort went wide of Morris’ near post.
In the 26th minute, Macarthur did well to fashion a shot at goal. He used a smart flick to pass the ball on to Clark, who was unmarked down the left. He returned it to Macarthur, who got into the penalty area before taking it beyond a Fulham Under 21 defender.
The 19-year-old attempted to curl his shot towards the far corner of the net around Benda from a tight angle, but his attempt went straight into the chest of the goalkeeper.
Ollie O’Neill had a good chance when Fulham won possession inside the Gillingham half. The visitors broke into the penalty area, and the ball was played back to an unmarked O’Neill. However, his shot goalward was well blocked by George Lapslie.
Shortly before half-time, Aaron Loupalo-Bi gave Fulham Under 21s the lead. Chris Donnell delivered a low ball towards the six-yard box, where Loupalo-Bi got in between Ehmer and Morris to prod the ball into the back of the net.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 0-1 Fulham Under 21s
The Gills made a half-time substitution with Conor Masterson replacing Shad Ogie in the centre of the defence.
It was a quiet opening to the start of the second half, with neither side mustering up an opportunity with much of the possession played between the two penalty areas.
Just after the hour, the hosts made a double change when Jonny Williams and Ethan Coleman replaced Dieng and Lapslie respectively.
Donnell had a half-chance in the 66th minute when a cross from the right found the head of the midfielder. However, his attempt flew over the crossbar, leaving Morris untested.
Nichols won a free-kick after he was pulled back when making his way towards the penalty area. The striker took the set piece himself, but his strike deflected off the wall, going just over the bar for a corner, which came to nothing.
Morris provided a crucial touch to prevent the visitors from doubling their advantage. A corner from the right was curled towards the back post, with Harris closing in on the ball unmarked. Morris was alert enough to stretch out and get a fingertip on the ball to take it away from the Fulham man, sending it out for a corner.
In the 73rd minute, Walker forced Benda into a good save. The striker broke forward, making his way into the penalty area. He cut onto his left foot before curling a shot towards the far bottom corner, but Benda did well to palm it away from the danger.
Jayden Clarke and Macauley Bonne replaced Chambers and Macarthur shortly afterwards as the Gills continued their search for an equaliser.
Jonathan Esenga had a golden chance to extend the visitors' advantage when the ball was played to the full-back, who was unmarked inside the penalty area. Fortunately, he shanked his effort high and wide of the target, as he had to stretch to get a shot away.
With a little over five minutes remaining, Walker almost found an equaliser. After good build-up play by the Gills, Clarke had the ball on the left side of the penalty area and cut the ball back for Walker. The pass was a little behind the forward, who had to hook his left foot around the ball to send it goalward. However, his attempt went just the wrong side of the post as it nestled into the side netting.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 0-1 Fulham Under 21s
Gillingham: Morris, Orji, Ehmer, Ogie (Masterson 46’), Clark, Dieng (Coleman 61’), Chambers (Clarke 75’), Lapslie (J. Williams 61’), Macarthur (Bonne 75’), Nichols, Walker
Unused Substitutes: Turner, Alexander
Fulham Under 21s: Benda, Tanton, Esenga, Francois (Pajaziti 64’), Araujo, Odutayo, Donnell (Okkas 90+2’), Harris, Loupalo-Bi (Šekularac 85’), O’Neill, Lanquedoc (Gordon 85’)
Unused Substitutes: Borto, Osmand, Williams
Referee: Craig Hicks
Attendance: 1226 (89 away fans)