Published: 21:30, 23 August 2016
Bradley Dack missed a penalty but hit back with the winner to send Gillingham into the third round of the EFL Cup – at the expense of Premier League Watford.
The Gills were looking to restore some pride after a heavy weekend league defeat and did it in style, coming from behind to win Tuesday’s game at Vicarage Road.
Stuart Nelson made some important saves early on to frustrate Watford in the opening stages but Watford substitute Odion Ighalo put the hosts ahead in the second half.
Bradley Dack fired a penalty well over for the Gills, but they levelled with a great strike from Mark Byrne, to take the tie into extra time. Dack responded with the winner.
Gillingham were making their first visit to Watford in nine years, losing that League Cup encounter 3-0.
The Gills were aiming to bounce back from a 5-0 drubbing against Scunthorpe while Watford were seeking their first win under manager Walter Mazzarri. The Premier League side made nine changes to the team which started their weekend match against Chelsea.
Gills boss Justin Edinburgh made just one change to the team that started at the weekend, replacing Rory Donnelly upfront with Cody McDonald. Underfire keeper Nelson kept his place.
Edinburgh switched formations, going 3-5-2 for the first time this season, with West Ham loanee Josh Pask taking a central defensive role inbetween Max Ehmer and Deji Oshilaja. Paul Konchesky and Emmanuel Osadebe took on the wingback roles.
Nelson made an early save to block out a Troy Deeney effort and made an even better stop with 15 minutes gone, rushing off his line and spreading himself well to block a shot from Ikechi Anya after Matej Vydra had laid it off for the busy wingback.
McDonald’s looping header over the bar was Gills’ first chance of the match and home keeper Costel Pantilimon had little to do in the opening half hour, heading clear a forward ball from Josh Wright before McDonald could get it and plucking Billy Knott’s free-kick from the air.
Nelson was being kept busy. Anya had another chance after a one two with Deeney left Osadebe stranded but the shot was blocked and Abdoulaye Doucoure fired wide. Moments later he was out quickly to deny Matej Vydra after Deeney put him in.
Ben Watson fired over early on in the second half for Watford and Oshilaja made an important block when Deeney looked to latch onto a ball from Anya as he again got in behind the defence.
Watford brought on an extra attacking threat on 55 minutes and within 90 seconds of coming on Ighalo put Watford ahead. Deeney played a ball over the top for the substitute and although Oshilaja got a block, the new arrival tapped home.
Nelson made a point-blank save from Tommie Hoban to deny Watford a second and McDonald hacked the loose ball off the line.
Gillingham had a great chance to level with 20 minutes left after substitute Elliott List was fouled in the box, racing onto a ball from Dack. It was Dack who took responsibility from 12 yards but his penalty was poor, firing it well over the bar into the away end.
Nelson had to make a flying save to deny the ever-threatening Deeney while at the other end McDonald twisted and turned in the box but his shot was blocked. The Gills’ young substitutes List and Darren Oldaker had made a great impact on the game.
The Gills levelled with a great goal from Byrne on 82 minutes, bending the shot home from 20 yards on his weaker foot, leaving keeper Pantilimon grounded and sending the match into extra-time.
Dack put the Gills infront on 101 minutes when he fired in off the post from close range, from Osadebe’s cross. It took referee James Linington some time to award the goal, checking it crossed the line, but when he did the 850 away fans were jubilant.
Watford put the pressure on in the dying stages and Ehmer cleared off the line from Hoban but the Gills hung on.
Watford: Pantilimon, Nyom, Hoban, Kabasele (Ighalo 55mins), Paredes, Guedioura, Watson, Doucoure, Anya (Zuniga 94mins), Deeney, Vydra (Capoue 66mins). Subs not used: Gomes, Kaboul, Holebas, Sinclair.
Gillingham: Nelson, Pask, Konchesky (List 65mins), Ehmer, Oshilaja, Wright (Oldaker 74mins), Knott, Byrne, Osadebe, McDonald, Emmanuel-Thomas (Dack 65mins). Subs not used: Hadler, Hessenthaler, Donnelly, Dickenson.
Attendance: 7,004 (849 away)