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Gillingham 3 Southampton 1: Ashley Nadesan and Robbie McKenzie (2) score in Carabao Cup first-round cup shock at Priestfield

Gillingham’s recent love affair with the Carabao Cup continued on Tuesday night after knocking out Championship side Southampton.

Ashley Nadesan put Gills ahead during an impressive opening 45 minutes and Robbie McKenzie - who had a first-half effort disallowed - struck twice after the turnaround to leave the Gills in dreamland.

Carlos Alcaraz got one back for the Saints on 90 minutes ahead of seven nervy minutes of stoppage-time, but the Gills held on for a well-deserved 3-1 win.

Robbie McKenzie celebrates scoring against SouthamptonPicture: @Julian_KPI
Robbie McKenzie celebrates scoring against SouthamptonPicture: @Julian_KPI

The Gills reached the fourth round of the competition last season, knocking out Premier League Brentford along the way and enjoying a night out at Wolves.

League 2 Gillingham made five changes to the team which beat Stockport in their weekend match, starting with Nadesan upfront in a 4-5-1 formation, but they were the team on the front-foot early on.

The Saints changed their entire line-up from the one which kicked off the season with a win at Sheffield Wednesday.

The visitors came with a reputation for playing possession-based football but looked rattled early on at the back, resorting to hoofing balls clear at times. Jayden Clarke was a menace down the right but the opening goal came from the opposite flank.

Southampton lost possession and Dom Jefferies burst down the flank before sending in a cross for Nadesan, who finished with 12 minutes gone.

Prior to that Shad Ogie had headed a good chance over and Saints defender Romain Perraud almost found his own net with a nervy backpass.

Southampton raised their game after Gillingham got their opener but were mostly restricted to shots from the edge of the box that keeper Glenn Morris comfortably dealt with.

Sekou Mara did crash an effort off the bar with a rising shot after Ogie had made a block seconds earlier, the closest they got to scoring in the opening half.

The Gills should have had a second through Ethan Coleman, who was a class act in midfield. His free header from a Max Clark corner was off target, however, a let-off for the visitors.

Gillingham did have the ball in the net during first-half stoppage-time through McKenzie, getting on the end of Clark’s corner, but referee Carl Brook spotted an infringement and ruled it out.

Saints boss Russell Martin made a double change at the break to try and get themselves back into the tie. Kamari Doyle and Joe Aribo were both introduced.

Despite the changes, it was the Gills who found the net next. Cheye Alexander’s deep free-kick was knocked on by Shad Ogie, Max Ehmer got a touch, and weekend match-winner McKenzie was again on hand to finish.

Carlos Alcaraz replaced Perraud for the visitors as manager Russell Martin again turned to his bench to try and dig them out of trouble.

The Gills had a third on 66 minutes, sending Priestfield wild. A Clark corner was cleared as far as McKenzie and from 20 yards he found the bottom corner.

Alexander made a great block to deny Alcaraz but at the other end a point-blank save from Saints keeper Alex McCarthy denied the Gills a fourth as substitute Tom Nichols came close.

A bad night for Saints boss Martin was compounded by picking up a late yellow card for dissent.

The visitors got a goal back on 90 minutes when substitute Alcaraz squeezed in a deflected shot past Morris.

Gillingham had another seven minutes of added-on time to play. Alcaraz put a free-kick into the side-netting and Morris held onto a deflected shot from Sam Amo-Ameyaw.

Gillingham: Morris, Alexander, Clark, Ehmer, Ogie, McKenzie, Coleman, Jefferies (Malone 71mins), Clarke (Gbode 85mins), Lapslie (J Williams 71mins), Nadesan (Nichols 71mins). Subs not used: Turner, Chambers, Gale.

Southampton: McCarthy, Adams (Onuachu 68mins), Bree, Perraud (Alcaraz 52mins), Armstrong (Aribo 46mins), Mara (Doyle 46mins), Djenepo, Charles, Lyanco, Amo-Ameyaw, Meghoma (Dibling 86mins). Subs not used: Lumley, Stephens, Edozie, Ballard.

Referee: Carl Brook

Attendance: 7,775 (1,775 away)

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