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Charlton Athletic 3 Gillingham 0: Lewis Walker scored an own goal in the Papa John’s Trophy match before Aaron Henry and Miles Leaburn added goals for The Addicks

Gillingham took a break from League 2 action but found no joy at the hands of Charlton in the Papa John’s Trophy group stage opener.

Striker Lewis Walker was handed a starting role for Gillingham but unfortunately his top-corner effort beat his own goalkeeper to give Charlton an early lead at The Valley. Teenagers Aaron Henry and Miles Leaburn extended the lead after the break. It’s another 90 minutes where the Gills have failed to score, that run now extended to six games in all competitions.

Gillingham manager Neil Harris watched his side beaten by Charlton in the EFL Trophy Picture: KPI
Gillingham manager Neil Harris watched his side beaten by Charlton in the EFL Trophy Picture: KPI

Gillingham manager Neil Harris named a relatively strong side for Wednesday night's Trophy match but didn’t really have too many options with such a slender squad.

He had the bonus of being able to recall experienced midfielder Shaun Williams, captaining the side after missing the previous four matches because of injury. Dom Jefferies also returned and was named among the subs.

Regular starters Max Ehmer, Mikael Mandron, Jordan Green and Stuart O’Keefe were given a breather as Harris named all but O’Keefe on the bench, the skipper being the only senior player not to be included.

Charlton were all-change, a completely different eleven named from the one which played Wycombe in League 1 for them on Saturday. Seven of their starters were 20 or younger.

Gills - without a goal in their previous five matches - reverted to a 4-4-2 set-up as Lewis Walker and Scott Kashket were picked to try and end that goal drought.

A great early chance fell to Alex MacDonald but he dragged the effort wide after Williams had dropped the ball into his path with an exquisite pass, showing the kind of quality with his delivery that had been missing.

The Gills almost undid their positive early approach as a lapse at the back allowed Miles Leaburn in and Jake Turner had to race off his line to save at the feet of 17-year-old Daniel Kanu.

Gillingham, crying out for a goal from one of their strikers , got one on 15 minutes, but unfortunately Walker sliced the ball into his own net, diverting a dangerous ball from Diallang Jaiyesimi past Jake Turner. The Charlton chance had come from a corner, played in low to Jaiyesimi who had found space between defenders.

Charlton sensed they could get more goals out of the Gills’ defence and had several more half chances before Scott Kashket drove one wide for the visitors after bursting forward.

The Gills enjoyed some good possession towards the back end of the half but it was Charlton who came closest to threatening the goal again, Kanu missing Harris O’Connor’s dangerous cross by a fraction. Moments later Jack Payne ran in on goal and Turner had to save at his near post to keep the shot out.

Gillingham made a trio of substitutions at the break with Jefferies, Mandron and former Charlton midfielder Ben Reeves getting the chance to impress as Kashket, Williams and Hakeeb Adelakun were withdrawn.

With 52 minutes played the Gills found themselves two goals down. Turner had initially saved well to keep out Jake Forster-Caskey’s free-kick but when the ball was cleared out to Henry, the birthday-boy firing in low from the edge of the box to make it a memorable day to celebrate turning 19.

A third followed on 59 minutes, slick passing across the box and a final pass from Jaiyesimi leading to a chance for 18-year-old Leaburn, left in space to pick his spot.

David Tutonda’s introduction for Lee led to the Gills changing shape to wing-backs. With 15 minutes left Mandron had a great chance to pull one back but home goalkeeper Nathan Harness stuck out a foot to deny the striker. Elkan Baggott also went close with a low strike.

At the other end Payne struck wide from distance for Charlton. Gills’ last chance fell to Walker but his dinked effort went just over the bar after Mandron got the better of defender Matt Dench.

Gillingham: Turner, Alexander, Law, Wright, Baggott, Williams (Jefferies 46mins), MacDonald, Lee (Tutonda 63mins), Adelakun (Reeves 46mins), Kashket (Mandron 46mins), Walker. Subs not used: Morris, Ehmer, Green.

Charlton: Harness, Jaiyesimi, Forster-Caskey, Payne, Henry (Williams 81mins), Leaburn (Ladapo 85mins), Ness, Kanu (Campbell 67mins), Chin (Bakrin 81mins), Barker, O’Connor (Dench 67mins). Subs not used: Kone, Anderson.

Referee: Sunny Gill

Attendance: 1,888 (154 away)

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