Published: 20:45, 23 September 2020
| Updated: 20:52, 23 September 2020
Gillingham were short of numbers for their Carabao Cup third round game and lost by a single goal to Stoke City.
Tyrese Campbell fired the Championship side ahead late in the first half and that goal was enough, Stoke deserving to go through after bossing Wednesday night’s game against a spirited Gillingham.
Stoke will go on to meet Bristol City or Aston Villa in the fourth round while the Gills will have a head count before they take on Blackpool this Saturday.
A back injury to regular keeper Jack Bonham meant 18-year-old Joe Walsh made his first appearance of the season, impressing between the sticks with several good saves.
Gillingham’s new signing Dominic Samuel was warming up pre-match but didn’t feature, the club saying that “the appropriate medical documentation missed the registration deadline by 30 minutes.”
Manager Steve Evans named just five subs from a possible seven, with no back-up goalkeeper. He needed to use one of his replacements before the break with Matty Willock’s night ending early, clutching an ice pack as he took his seat.
John Akinde was back leading the line for the Gills in what was otherwise a very young team, averaging just 22 years in age.
While the Gills made six changes from their weekend league match, lining up at the bet365 Stadium with a 4-3-3 system, Stoke retained only three of those who started their match on Sunday.
Akinde got an early sniff of goal, but couldn’t wriggle free of his marker, as he looked to meet Jordan Graham’s dangerous low cross.
Walsh was also involved in the opening minutes, his nerves calmed with a confident take at his near post as Tommy Smith’s drive took a deflection. Smith got a lot of the ball early on down Gills’ left side. James McClean also sent in some inviting deliveries from the opposite flank. The two men almost combined for the opener on 20 minutes, Smith meeting McClean’s cross on the volley but Zech Medley made a vital interception.
Walsh pulled off a terrific close-range block to deny Harry Souttar as the Stoke man looked to finish from close range.
It was a simple ball through the middle that led to the opening goal after 37 minutes, Campbell running onto a pass between Medley and Christian Maghoma before placing a shot past Walsh.
Gillingham went into the break a goal down, Stoke showing their quality throughout, but Evans’ side had competed well.
Souttar tested Walsh again with a low drive through a crowded box, after a corner was cleared into his path, but the youngster made no fuss as he collected the shot.
Josh Tymon rattled the Gills bar with a 20-yard blockbuster
Stoke continued to dominate possession in the second half but were frustrated in their attempts to score a second. Scott Robertson’s last contribution of the night was to make a vital challenge as the ball was being fired in from all angles.
The hosts thought they had a second when Jacob Brown netted at the near post from a corner but the referee spotted an infringement.
Stoke City: Davies, Fox, McClean, Smith, Gregory (Brown 77mins), Oakley-Boothe, Campbell (Fletcher 66mins), Thompson, Tymon, Souttar, Collins. Subs not used: Nna Noukeu, Batth, Ince, Cousins, Powell.
Gillingham: Walsh, Ogilvie, McKenzie, Medley, Maghoma, Woods, Willock (MacDonald 38mins), Robertson (Jackson 72mins), Coyle (Oliver 69mins), Graham, Akinde. Subs not used: Tucker, Mellis.
Referee: David Webb