Watford 1-2 Gillingham: Hornets humbled by Gills in extra-time to crash out of EFL Cup

Watford were eliminated from just the second round of the English Football League Cup by Gillingham on home turf on Tuesday night after an extra-time Bradley Dack winner.

Watford 1-2 Gillingham: Hornets humbled by Gills in extra-time to crash out of EFL Cup
(Photo credit: www.stalbansreview.co.uk)
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Watford: Watford: Pantilimon; Nyom, Hoban, Kabasele; Paredes, Guedioura (Ighalo 55), Watson, Doucoure, Anya (Zuniga 94); Deeney, Vydra (Capoue 65). Not used: Gomes, Kaboul, Sinclair, Holebas.
Gillingham: Gillingham: Nelson; Ehmer, Pask, Oshilaja; Osadebe, Byrne, Wright (Oldaker 74), Konchesky (List 65); Knott; Emmanuel-Thomas (Dack 65), McDonald. Not used: Hadler, Hessenthaler, Donnelly, Dickenson.
SCORE: 1-0 Ighalo 55, 1-1 Byrne 82, 1-2 Dack 112.
REFEREE: James Linington (ENG). Bookings: Byrne for dissent (118).
INCIDENTS: EFL Cup Round two clash at Vicarage Road. Attendance: 7,004.

Watford were unceremoniously dumped out of the EFL Cup at the second round stage for the second successive year on Tuesday night as they succumbed to an extra-time defeat to Gillingham

Odion Ighalo's second-half strike had put the hosts on course for a third-round spot, but Mark Byrne fired the League One visitors level to force extra-time.

Striker Bradley Dack then delivered the decisive blow just before half-time of the added 30 minutes to knock the Hornets out in miserable fashion.

Hornets booed off after back-to-back first round exits  

Following the defeat Quique Sanchez Flores' side suffered to Preston North End at Deepdale last season, Walter Mazzarri’s current crop took the embarrassment to new heights after losing at Vicarage Road

The Hornets were booed off by a sparse crowd of just over 7,000 fans while Gillingham manager Justin Edinburgh and match-winner Dack led the celebrations in one corner of the ground, where a jubilant pocket of visiting supporters from Kent were housed.

In truth, the Premier League outfit could and probably should have had the tie wrapped before any such hint of the troubles they would face arrived.   

A strong line up 

Mazzarri selected a relatively strong line up for the encounter including skipper Troy Deeney, while midfielder Ben Watson returned from suspension. Although Odion Ighalo was left on the bench his replacement Matej Vydra applied himself well.

Denney forced the first save from Stuart Nelson in the sixth minute after a shot from an Ikechi Anya. A second presentable opportunity arrived in the 13th minute after Abdoulaye Doucoure’s cross-field pass ball from right to left was latched onto by Vydra on the left side of the area. The Czech international back-heeled the ball into Anya but Nelson was there to block the shot.

The hosts created a few more decent chances in the opening period but for the most part, the Gillingham defence stayed solid and resolute and Nelson enjoyed a very good game between the sticks.

Strong second half start 

Kabasele battles for the ball. (Picture: Sky Sports)
Kabasele battles for the ball. (Picture: Sky Sports)

Mazzarri’s half-time words must still have been ringing in the ears of his players because they were on the front foot straight from the restart.

Ighalo was brought on in the 55th minute and the change had the desired effect almost immediately, when Deeney played the ball over the top and after seeing his initial shot saved the Nigerian striker calmly slotted the ball home to make it 1-0. 

One penalty miss, one equaliser bagged 

But Gillingham were invited back into the tie when Allan Nyom made a mistake by bringing down substitute Elliot List, only for Dack to blast his spot kick over the crossbar.

However, Mark Byrne spared his team-mates blushes in the 82nd minute, curling a fine effort from 25-yards that flew past Costel Pantilimon into the net to send the visiting supporters into a frenzy.

A famous winner 

And Dack was rewarded for his persistence in extra time when he met a magnificent cross from Emanuel Osadebe and despite the best efforts of Pantilimon, the ball crept over the line.

Watford pressed on ine the second period of extra-time but despite efforts from Tommie Hoban, Juan Camilio Zuinga and Ighalo - the visitors side stood firm for a famous victory.