Exeter City's Carabao Cup exploits are over after a 6-5 penalty defeat at Gillingham, following a goalless draw.
Neither side could find a breakthrough in normal time, with Josh Key's penalty miss in sudden death the only thing separating the sides, meaning City's wait to make the third round of the competition for the first time since 1989 continues for another year.
The biggest change to the team for the cup visit to Gillingham was the big omission of manager Matt Taylor, who was absent due to the arrival of his and wife Sarah’s first baby. Assistant manager Wayne Carlisle took charge of the squad alongside coach Dan Green. The pair made six changes to the starting XI with Scott Brown returning to cup action once again, followed by Jonathan Grounds, Pierce Sweeney, Josh Key, Josh Coley and Jevani Brown. Coming in to replace Jamal Blackman, Cheick Diabate, Alex Hartridge, Jack Sparkes, Archie Collins and Sam Nombe respectively.
The first big chance of the game fell to Jake Caprice inside the opening five minutes, sprinting down the left hand side, but his cross into the box failed to find the returning Brown in the middle of the area, pressure from the off for the City.
There was a huge moment for Gillingham in the seventh minute, courtesy of a ball catching out the City back three, but an onrushing Brown in goal led to the ball flying aimlessly across the City six yard box. Only moments later and a lapse in judgement from the returning Sweeney saw the centre half pick up The Grecians first yellow of the game. But Gillingham were unable to make anything of the free kick and the ball ended up in possession of City once again.
Just about 25 minutes gone and the travelling Grecians were almost cheering for an opener, after some fantastic play once again down the left hand side from Caprice, the ball fell to captain Matt Jay ten yards out, but his effort missed the goal by only a few inches gliding just wide of the keepers near post.
After some beautiful play between the back three a textbook Sweeney cross found Caprice waiting at the edge of the area, who lined up a curling effort only for the strike to end up sailing over the bar as the chances continued to come for the boys in red, thougb Gills stopper Jake Turner remained untested.
City were straight out of the blocks with a vengeance. A rocket of a strike from Key just outside the area, swirling in the wind had the Gills keeper all over the place, the ball ended up out for a corner but City were unable to make it count.
Mass panic in the City penalty area as the ball was being ping ponged about by The Gills attack, much to the joy of the City players the ball ended up being deflected out for a goal kick and Carlisle's men were able to get the back under their control.
Just after the hour mark we saw the first change of the game for City, with Archie Collins coming into the fray to replace Harry Kite. Only moments later and an injury precaution change for City saw Sweeney replaced by Diabate. In the 70th minute City made their final changes of the game with Grounds, Jay and Dieng replaced by Hartridge, Cox and Chauke.
With a quarter of an hour to go, the travelling Grecians continued to make themselves heard, tucked away in the far corner of the ground. With the noise behind them City really started to make moves towards the Gillingham goal. With time running out in normal time the Grecians were really pushing for a breakthrough with the long ball trying to utilise Cox and Brown.
Another effort from Caprice, far on the left hand side of the pitch in the final moments of the game saw the ball end up in the hands of the Gillingham keeper, the ball almost sneaked under him but much to the dismay of Caprice, the ball was cleared away by the Gillingham keeper.
After 90 minutes, the game ended up going to penalties with Gillingham coming out on top winning the shoot-out 6-5, with Josh Key missing the crucial spot kick in City's round in sudden death.
Next up for the boys in red is another long away trip, this time to the Wham Stadium to take on Accrington Stanley on Saturday August 27. Click here for tickets.
City: S. Brown, Caprice, Grounds (Hartridge), Stubbs, Sweeney (Diabate), Key, Dieng (Chauke), Kite (Collins), Coley, Jay (C) (Cox), J. Brown
Subs not used: Blackman, Sparkes, Nombe, Borges
Gillingham: Turner, Alexander, Tutonda, Wright, MacDonald (Mandron), O’Keefe (C) (Reeves), Lee, Walker (Green), Baggott, Kashket (Adelakun)
Subs not used: Morris, Law, Carter
Attendance: 2927 (257 Away)