Published: 21:40, 29 August 2017
An own goal earned the Gills a win from their Checkatrade Trophy group match opener against Southend.
Josh Parker’s opener was cancelled out by visiting winger Stephen McLaughlin.
Anton Ferdinand found his own net in the second half to put the Gills back infront, after Darren Oldaker’s free-kick came off the woodwork.
It was Gillingham’s first win of the season.
Ady Pennock named just three of the players who started the league game against Southend three days earlier, a thrilling game which ended 3-3.
Hat-trick hero Tom Eaves was left on the bench for the midweek Checkatrade Trophy match as Conor Wilkinson led the line upfront alongside youngster Greg Cundle.
Big Ben Nugent got a first start in central defence for the Gills and there was a debut in goal for recently signed Steve Arnold, both men impressing at Priestfield.
The Gills had reverted from wing-backs to a 4-4-2 system against Southend in the weekend league match, and Pennock started with a flat back four for their Group B Trophy encounter.
It was first blood to the Gills, taking the lead after just eight minutes. A minute earlier Wilkinson had fired narrowly wide after driving forward for the hosts.
The opener was scored by Parker, smashing home from just outside the box after his first shot was blocked by John White.
Arnold made a great save with his foot to deny Jermaine McGlashan with 20 minutes gone, after the visitors got in behind the Gills defence, and it wasn’t long before they levelled.
Southend surged forward after Connor Ogilvie had lost possession down the left flank and McLaughlin was there to eventually net from close-range, off Dru Yearwood’s cross.
Gills came close to a second, during an evenly fought half, with Greg Cundle shooting just wide and captain-for-the-night Scott Wagstaff having a vicious shot deflected over.
The Gills retook the lead on 57 minutes when Oldaker – who had been fouled – curled the free-kick onto the Southend bar. Keeper Mark Oxley couldn’t claim and when Elvis Bwomono cleared it went in off Ferdinand.
Arnold played the last 20 minutes nursing a sore head after former Gills man Jermaine McGlashan went in on him hard and late, a challenge that referee Andy Haines deemed worthy of only a yellow, to the amazement of many.
After lengthy treatment for Arnold, McGlashan had a golden chance to level the scores with eight minutes to go, smashing a goalbound shot that looked certain to hit the back of the net, before debutant Aaron Simpson threw his body in the way.
Fellow Gills sub Elliott List had a great chance at the other end, firing wide when free in the box after Ferdinand was unable to get any distance on a clearance. The Southend defender injured himself in the process and spent the rest of the game hobbling around upfront.
Gills claimed the win, after 10 minutes of stoppage time, to get their Trophy campaign off to a winning start. Games against Colchester and Reading await.
Gillingham: Arnold, O'Neill, Ehmer, Nugent, Ogilvie (Simpson 79mins), Parker, Oldaker, Hessenthaler, Wagstaff (Byrne 90mins), Cundle (List 70mins), Wilkinson. Subs not used: Holy, Lacey, Chapman, Eaves.
Southend: Oxley, Ferdinand, Timlin, McLaughlin, Ba (Cox 70mins), Yearwood (Klass 62mins), McGlashan, Leonard, Robinson, Bwomono, White (Kyprianou 85mins). Subs not used: Smith, Kightly, Fortune, Bridge.
Attendance: 1,549 (135 away)
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