BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall progressed to the second round of the League Cup as Ben Amos had a debut to enjoy – saving two penalties in the shootout.
The match ended 0-0 after 90 minutes and went straight to a spot-kick decider.
Amos saved from Mark Byrne and former Charlton striker Brandon Hanlan with Josh Parker producing a terrible attempt into the upper tier of the away end.
Jed Wallace was denied with Millwall’s first kick but Tom Elliott, Byron Webster and Shane Ferguson all converted as the Lions ran out 3-1 winners.
Millwall boss Neil Harris made 10 changes for the tie but he could not be accused of disrespecting the competition with his starting 11 still packed with experience.
There were first starts for summer signings Jiri Skalak, Murray Wallace and Amos.
Gillingham, with a 100 per cent record in League One, made just three switches to their team but needed their keeper Tomas Holy to be in alert mood in the opening 45 minutes.
He came quickly off his line to block Fred Onyedinma’s shot on 21 minutes and he parried away Skalak’s strike, the ball coming to the former Brighton winger when a dangerous Shane Ferguson corner was only partially cleared.
Some of Millwall’s approach play was neat but not quite there enough. Elliott produced a neat bit of chest control from Conor McLaughlin’s diagonal ball forward but then dragged the ball harmlessly wide of the left post.
Elliott was involved again with a nod-down for Ben Thompson but the midfielder drove straight into the arms of Holy.
McLaughlin made an excellently-timed tackle on former Charlton man Regan Charles-Cook but the best opportunity for the Kent club in that first period came early on, Tom Eaves sweeping over with a first-time effort.
The second half did not start smoothly for the hosts and Ben Amos had to push away Regan Charles-Cook’s near-post effort before James Meredith got in a crucial block to deny Eaves.
Gillingham then performed heroics to keep Ferguson’s chip out of their net but Holy only needed to go full stretch when Bradley Garmston’s misdirected header back to him was wayward.
The Gills were getting more joy and Eaves saw a strike deflect narrowly wide before Hanlan outstripped Byron Webster but could not find the target with his finish.
Harris made changes on 73 minutes, Lee Gregory and Aiden O’Brien replacing Onyedinma and Meredith.
Elliott was getting criticism from sections of the home support and did nothing to increase his popularity as he headed over Skalak’s cross with 10 minutes to go.
Gillingham had the pace to counter and Charles-Cook failed to hit the target to let off McLaughlin after he lost possession.
Both teams had lacked a clinical touch in the regulation 90 minutes, but Millwall found enough when it came to the penalties to ensure their progression.
PHOTO BY BRIAN TONKS
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