Gillingham took Premier League Brentford to a penalty shootout in the Carabao Cup and won.
Ivan Toney put Brentford a goal up after just three minutes and Saman Ghoddos hit the woodwork for the hosts but Mika Mandron levelled it up with 15 minutes left. Gills hung on for a 1-1 draw and the match went to penalties. All six of their penalties were converted to claim a 6-5 shoot-out win, Mikkel Damsgaard hitting the bar to lose it for the hosts.
The third round fixture at the modest but impressive Gtech Stadium was a sell-out and home head coach Thomas Frank has declared pre-match he’d be naming a strong team, one that included England World Cup hopeful Ivan Toney. Frank did exactly that, throwing the Gills a Premier League line-up to tackle.
With Gareth Southgate’s squad for Qatar to be named days after the third round match, Toney was hoping to make some headlines against a Gills defence that were unable to keep a clean sheet against National League North AFC Fylde in the FA Cup on the Saturday.
Gillingham’s own big striker Mandron dropped to the bench as boss Neil Harris returned experienced midfielder Shaun Williams to the squad following injury, lining up alongside captain Stuart O’Keefe, who had shrugged off a weekend injury. Defender Max Ehmer was suspended.
Traffic congestion around the stadium led to a 20-minute delay to the match. The Gills team were among those stuck, leading to a kick-off at the later time of 8.05pm.
The last time the sides met was in 2014, in League 1, but the gap between the clubs is now huge. Brentford started the night 11th in the Premier League while the Gills have gone backwards, sitting 20th in League 2. Harris’ men were 20-1 outsiders to pull off a shock in West London.
It took Toney and Brenford just three minutes to open the scoring, a long ball forward from keeper David Raya catching out the Gills defence. Mikkel Damsgaard was in the clear behind the defence and he square for Toney to tap home into an empty net.
Brentford were a threat out wide in the early stages of the opening half and were in charge of the opening half.
Ghoddos headed a chance over and later in the half put one against the frame of the goal from a cross out wide. Damsgaard also went close with a backheel that went narrowly wide.
The Gills struggled to get a sight at goal, creating a couple of promising moved but Brentford’s defence were quick to nullify the threat. Half-time came with just one goal still separating the side.
Brentford had plenty of the ball at the start of the second half but the Gills continued to keep the score down to one, hoping for that big chance to get back into the tie.
Toney put a good chance wide for the hosts with just Turner to beat while Frank Onyeka’s last contribution was a dipping shot that the Gills keeper had to turn over the bar.
Alex MacDonald’s introduction from the bench paid off immediately as his cross on 75 minutes was headed home by fellow substitute Mandron. It was Gillingham's first and only effort at goal all night but that one chance would be enough.
Brentford went straight back at the Gills as they looked to restore their advantage against a side, who had dropped to 22nd in the League 2 table with results elsewhere.
Turner made a super save with his feet to deny Toney as he powered a downward header at goal with a minute left. Brentford had a flurry of corners at the death but Gills hung on.
With shoot-out wins over Exeter City and Colchester in previous cup wins the Gills were at it again, this time against top-flight opposition.
Penalties from Mandron, Adelakun, Wright, Alexander, Kashket and MacDonald put Gills 6-5 up in the shoot-out and when Damsgaard hit the bar Neil Harris’ men won the tie.
Brentford: Raya, Henry (Jensen 61mins), Roerslev (Mbeumo 81mins), Pinnock, Norgaard (Dasilva 46mins), Zanka, Onyeka, Damsgaard, Lewis-Potter, Ghoddos, Toney. Subs not used: Cox, Mee, Crama, Trevitt, Yarmoliuk, Gilbert.
Gillingham: Turner, McKenzie, Wright, Baggott, Law, O’Keefe, Williams (Alexander 63mins), Jefferies (Kashket 90+2mins), Green (MacDonald 74mins), Adelakun, Walker (Mandron 63mins). Subs not used: Morris, Akehurst, Gbode.
Attendance: 16,278 (2,163)
Referee: Tim Robinson