Published: 21:30, 04 September 2018
| Updated: 09:13, 05 September 2018
Gillingham suffered a heavy defeat to Portsmouth in their opening Checkatrade Trophy match.
Two goals in a three minute spell at the end of the first half put Portsmouth in charge, Matt Clark heading in the opener and Ben Close getting the second.
Brett Pitman scored a third from the penalty spot after the break and David Wheeler added a last-minute fourth.
It was all-change for both teams, Gillingham and Portsmouth making 10 changes from their weekend starting line-ups. The hosts managed to field an experienced side, despite their reshuffle while the Gills had a younger XI on show.
Navid Nasseri, Darren Oldaker, Aaron Simpson, keeper Tom Hadler and returning loanee Connor Ogilvie were all making their first appearances of the season and starting the Group A South match at Fratton Park.
Boss Steve Lovell named an attack-minded four in midfield, with Josh Rees making his first start for the Gills, having come off the bench at Barnsley on Saturday.
Connor Wilkinson - who had a loan spell cut short at Pompey in 2016 because he refused to sing on the team bus, a claim he made after scoring against the side in Gills’ 3-1 win towards the end of last season - started upfront with Elliott List.
It was Wilkinson who had the first opportunity of the night, putting his low shot wide of the goal, moments before home captain Pitman struck the top of the crossbar from a free-kick.
It was an evenly contested start to the match, with Simpson almost creating something with a good run into the box and Nasseri having a shot saved. The Gills had appeals for a penalty turned down when the home keeper clattered into List, missing the ball but getting plenty of the player.
The hosts began to look more threatening in the latter stages of the half and they went ahead from a 41st minute corner. Hadler came out to claim the ball but Clark got there first, to head his side infront.
Hadler was beaten again two minutes later, diving to his left but unable to get to Close’s crisp shot, finding the bottom corner from the edge of the box after being picked out by Nathan Thompson.
Pitman missed a sitter for Portsmouth early in the second half but the linesman’s flag was up anyway for offside.
It wasn’t long before Pitman did get on the scoresheet, firing home from the penalty spot in the 55th minute, after Andre Green had gone down under a challenge from Simpson inside the box. For the second game running the Gills had been on the wrong end of a soft penalty claim.
Ben Chapman was given a great chance to pull one back, sent in on goal by fellow sub Liam Nash, but a heavy touch allowed the hosts to clear.
Hadler denied Green and then Wheeler with good saves but was beaten again in the final minute as a deflected shot fell kindly for the latter, who finished infront of an empty stand.
Gillingham have two more group games to play, facing Tottenham’s under-21s in October and Crawley Town the following month, both at home.
Portsmouth: McGee, Rose, Clarke, Burgess, Pitman, N Thompson, Wheeler, May (Mason 62mins), Close, Green, Haunstrup. Subs not used: MacGillivray, Brown, Naylor, Lowe, Evans, B Thompson.
Gillingham: Hadler, O’Neill, Simpson, Ogilvie, Lacey (Scarlett 80mins), Oldaker, Stevenson, Rees (Chapman 62mins), Nasseri, List (Nash 65mins), Wilkinson. Subs not used: Holy, O’Mara, Mbo, Woods.
Attendance: 2,011 (69 away fans)
More by this authorLuke Cawdell