Striker Vadaine Oliver limped out injured as Gillingham escaped the Carabao Cup on penalties against Ligue 1 rival Cheltenham at Priestfield.
Oliver had put the hosts in front, but four minutes later the Robins were tied. An injury to Oliver led defender Max Ehmer to play ahead for the second half, but the tie went on penalties and Cheltenham scored all five shots on goal to progress.
Gills boss Steve Evans has made changes from the weekend, as expected, but Covid issues have kept young stars from the previous round, Harvey Lintott and Gerald Sithole, out of the squad.
The Gills manager showed his determination to win until the third round – and a potential cash-winning tie – by naming some of his big hitters, including forward Oliver, although the only forward in form and hors de combat at his disposal.
It must have been his worst fear of seeing Oliver hurt himself.
Among the five changes on Evans’ side was the return of David Tutonda to left-back after his weekend suspension, but he only lasted 35 minutes before he suffered an injury with a limp.
Cheltenham – the Ligue 2 champion last season – made seven changes. Former Chatham and Hythe forward Alfie May has lined up for the visitors.
Oliver appeared to hurt his ankle as he walked forward, climbing the highest to lead Olly Lee’s deep cross. He managed to take the break before being replaced.
Before his first game, Oliver had a chance earlier but couldn’t make decent contact as the ball fell for him after Ben Reeves blocked a clearance from Ben Tozer.
The Gills’ lead lasted just four minutes as the defense failed to handle a long ball forward, which was aided in the trajectory of Kent-born May, and he brought it back. at home.
Neither team had many more chances in front of goal.
Gillingham turned things around for the second half with Jack Tucker replacing Oliver and center-half Ehmer playing as a makeshift striker.
Danny Lloyd glanced at a chance for the Gills early in the second half and Ellis Chapman pulled wide for the visitors as the game opened up after the turnaround.
Gills Chapman goaltender latched onto a Lewis Freestone header as Cheltenham looked to use set pieces to his advantage, especially the long throw. Bailey Akehurst did well to block a shot as the visitors broke and Robbie McKenzie also had to block an effort as the patched-up Gills struggled to go at times.
Callum Wright sliced a good chance for Cheltenham before Evans made his final change, putting on the man of the match of the weekend Mustapha Carayol.
Cheltenham dropped a few players in the later stages as time passed until the inevitable penalty shootout. Without extra time, it was straight on penalties.
The visitors could still have won in stoppage time, after Rhys Bennett lost the ball, but George Lloyd sliced the ball off with just the keeper to beat. Even later in added time, the Gills felt that a push on Bennett in the opposite box should have resulted in a penalty.
Gillingham had knocked out Crawley on penalties in the previous round and this one also had to be decided by the penalty lottery.
It was not to be Gills ‘night this time, as Cheltenham scored all five goals and a stoppage of Stuart O’Keefe’s effort on Gills’ second attempt saw the visitors win the game 5-4. Lee, Danny Lloyd, Carayol and Dan Adshead all scored their shots on goal for Gills.
Gillingham: Chapman, McKenzie, Ehmer, Bennett, Tutonda (Akehurst 38 minutes), O’Keefe, Adshead, Lloyd, Reeves (Carayol 76 minutes), Lee, Oliver (Tucker 46 minutes). Unused Submarines: Cumming, Jackson, Phillips, Dempsey.
Cheltenham: Evans, Long (Boyle 46 min), Tozer, Freestone, Sercombe (Wright 60 min), Horton, Perry, Blair, Chapman, Lloyd, May (Thomas 66 min). Unused Submarines: Flinders, Williams, Bonds.
Arbitrator: David Rock.
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