Published: 21:30, 08 November 2016
Gillingham claimed a well-deserved win against West Brom’s under-21s in front of a tiny crowd at The Hawthorns.
Just 284 spectactors were at the game as both teams ended their Checkatrade Trophy campaign inside an almost-empty stadium.
Darren Oldaker’s stunning long-range effort on the stroke of half-time put the Gills ahead and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas scored Gills’ second from the penalty spot after the break.
After nine games without a win, it was a welcome success for Justin Edinburgh’s men, who also kept their first clean sheet in 29 games.
Defeat for West Brom left them bottom of the group, while the Gills finished second bottom and both Millwall and Luton progress to the next stage.
Edinburgh handed starts to Bradley Garmston and Baily Cargill, both making their first appearances of the season.
Garmston looked lively on his first outing since dislocating his knee cap, in a game against his former club. Cargill was also back from injury to make his debut for Gills after he signed at the end of August.
Both West Brom and Gillingham were already out of the competition, following defeats from their first two games, but it proved to be a useful exercise for Edinburgh as he gave players valuable minutes.
Midfielders Mark Byrne and Oldaker both needed game time, as did defender Josh Pask and striker Rory Donnelly. All made their way into the final Southern Section Group H match.
Ryan Jackson was another player returning from injury and he made a second-half appearance, replacing Garmston, but he lasted less than half an hour before being replaced by Greg Cundle.
The best of the first-half efforts for Gillingham fell to Emmanuel-Thomas, but he was twice thwarted by keeper Alex Palmer.
At the other end Rekeem Harper bent a good chance wide and then failed to beat Stuart Nelson with a lob after Deji Oshilaja’s mistake had presented him with a chance.
Oldaker broke the deadlock just before the break, picking up the ball from 30 yards and bending it into the top corner.
Emmanuel-Thomas had another effort early in the second half but his shot, following a good interchange involving Knott and Osadebe, flew narrowly over.
It wasn’t much longer before Emmanuel-Thomas was on the scoresheet, slotting home a 55th-minute penalty, beating Palmer with a cool side-footed finish. A foul on Billy Knott had led referee Nigel Miller award the spot-kick.
West Brom came close to pulling a goal back with efforts from Jack Fitzwater, Evan Pierce and Rahis Nabi but were frustrated by Nelson.
Rory Donnelly almost got on the end of a cross to extend the lead and Cundle also put a good chance wide.
Gillingham: Nelson, Cargill (Dickenson 61mins), Pask, Garmston (Jackson 46mins (Cundle 74mins)), Oshilaja, Knott, Byrne, Osadebe, Oldaker, Donnelly, Emmanuel-Thomas. Subs not used: Hadler, Wright, Hessenthaler, McDonald.
Albion U21s: Palmer, Elbouzedi (Pritchatt 71mins), Harper, Nabi, Sweeney, McCourt, Donnellan, Fitzwater, Wilson, Forss (Pierce 60mins), Bradley (Soule 85mins). Subs not used: Rose, Piggott, Dool, Meredith.
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