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Portsmouth 5 Gillingham 1: Jonny Williams on target for the Gills in heavy EFL Trophy Southern Group E defeat at Fratton Park

Gillingham’s hopes of becoming the first team to beat Portsmouth this season ended after a torrid second half of their EFL Trophy match.

Tino Anjorin put League 1 leaders Portsmouth infront with an overhead kick but Jonny Williams netted a deserved equaliser before the break. Goals from Ben Stevenson and Kusini Yengi, however, early in the second half put the hosts back in charge.

Jonny Williams scored for Gillingham against Portsmouth Picture: @Julian_KPI
Jonny Williams scored for Gillingham against Portsmouth Picture: @Julian_KPI

Abu Kamara added a fourth for Pompey before Ryley Towler made it 5-1 to complete the scoreline.

There was a much-changed side named by interim boss Keith Millen on Tuesday night, giving plenty of young players a chance to shine. The first half was decent enough but the Gills fell apart in the second.

B Team regulars Matty Macarthur and Ike Orji made their first senior starts for the club while the bench was largely made up of youth players, including second-year scholar Stan Skipper.

Gillingham knew a win would be enough to qualify them for the knockout stage of the Trophy competition, but this was a team named with a League 2 match at Walsall firmly as the focus of attention.

Former Southampton youngster Macarthur looked to run at the home defence whenever he got the chance and that won an early corner for the Gills but it was Portsmouth who struck first.

Glenn Morris was back between the sticks for Gills and he was called upon to make a fine early save to keep out Anjorin after he had been played in on goal by Christian Saydee, but from the resultant corner Pompey went infront.

Anjorin was allowed too much time to finish with a close-range overhead kick after the ball had been whipped into the box and taken a deflection off Shad Ogie.

Gillingham recovered well from going a goal down and Morris wasn’t troubled too much for the rest of the half. Millen’s men got into some good attacking areas in what was a promising display from the visitors.

The Gills deservedly levelled right at the end of the half. Nichols beat Ryley Towler inside the box and then evaded the lunge of Sean Raggett before squaring for Williams who slid the ball home for 1-1. It was another unselfish piece of play from Nichols after he had put a goal on a plate for Scott Malone at the weekend.

Gillingham’s good first-half work was quickly undone at the start of the second.

Two goals inside five minutes put Pompey 3-1 up as the Gills were pulled apart. The Gills struggled to cope with the home side’s movement in the final third.

Portsmouth went back infront in the 50th minute when the ball was played across the edge of the Gills box into Stevenson’s path and he bent it home from 20 yards.

Gills goalkeeper Morris had to be at his best to keep Abu Kamara out moments later after he beat Orji for pace, racing onto a ball from Kusini Yengi.

Yengi fired a shot narrowly wide but it wasn’t long before he made it 3-1, powering in a header unopposed from Jack Sparkes’ free-kick after Orji had committed a foul.

Portsmouth took a breather before coming back at the Gills with another goal on 73 minutes, Kamara finding the net from the edge of the box.

Millen put more youth into action with 15 minutes left as youth player Stan Skipper was introduced for his debut and Josh Chambers got a run-out.

Sparkes came close to making it 5-1 with a low shot that Morris tipped onto his near post and fired another effort at goal moments later that drifted just wide.

Pompey did have a fifth with 10 minutes left, a corner was met by Conor Shaughnessy and Ryley Towler turned it home to inflict more pain on the Gills.

Gillingham’s average age got even lower when Malone was replaced by Alex Giles, another making his first appearance for the senior side.

Portsmouth came close to a sixth. Ehmer made a block from Gavin Whyte after Morris had saved well as the defence opened up again. Shortly before full-time Shaughnessy went narrowly wide with another effort.

Gillingham almost got a stoppage-time consolation but keeper Ryan Schofield saved from Jayden Clarke when he was in on goal from a long ball forward.

Gillingham: Morris, Orji, Clark (Skipper 75mins), Ogie (Masterson 46mins), Ehmer, Malone (Giles 81mins), J Williams, Jefferies (Chambers 75mins), Clarke, Macarthur, Nichols (Sithole 61mins). Subs not used: Turner, Gale.

Portsmouth: Schofield, Swanson, Towler, Whyte, Stevenson, Saydee, Yengi (Shaughnessy 63mins), Raggett, Sparkes, Kamara, Anjorin (Morrell 46mins). Subs not used: Oluwayemi, Rafferty, Jewitt-White, Mottoh, Aston.

Referee: Farai Hallam

Attendance: 5,066 (181 away)

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