Southend United were knocked out of the EFL Cup after losing 3-1 to Gillingham for the second time in a matter of days.
As they did on Saturday, Blues started the brighter and took the lead as Stephen McLaughlin, the Southend scorer on Saturday, prodded home to put his ahead at the break.
But three second half goals for Gills courtesy of Cody McDonald and an eye-catching brace from second half substitute Jay Emmanuel-Thomas ensured it was the Kent side who made it to Round Two.
There were four changes apiece from the weekend’s league game with John White captaining the side as Adam Barrett was named among the substitutes.
The first chance of the game went to the Blues as Oxley hit one up-field in the direction of McLaughlin on 8 minutes. The midfielder flicked the ball through to Cox who hit over on the half-volley.
Soon after, play was halted for several minutes after a clash a heads between O’Neill and Ehmer - with the latter coming off worse. The German defender was stretchered off the field by the medical staff on 16 minutes and was replaced by Oshilaja.
New signing King, making his full debut picked up the ball 20-yards out and sent one just over the crossbar on 20’.
In a half dominated by lengthy injury delays, Bradley Dack was next to go down for Gills. The playmaker couldn’t continue and limped off with Osadebe coming on in his place in the midfield on half-hour mark.
Soon after that change, Blues had the lead and it was a case of déjà vu as it was McLaughlin who gave the home team the advantage on 34 minutes.
Leonard’s long throw was flicked on by Sokolik into the direction of McLaughlin. The Irishman managed to beat the advancing Nelson to the ball and scrambled it home.
Gillingham almost made an immediate response as McDonald sent a diving header back across goal which just whizzed past the right hand post.
A stop-start half was lengthened by seven additional minutes made to the proceedings by the fourth official.
Ben Coker had to be on hand to head away a teasing cross from Konchesky on the left. The defender managed to flick away to safety with McDonald lurking.
The last action of the half saw a good chance present itself to O’Neill in the box but the winger nodded just wide.
Half Time Southend United 1-0 Gillingham
Just over five minutes into the second half and Blues went within a whisker of doubling the advantage. Cox with a strike from 18 yards going narrowly wide.
Another great chance for Blues soon after. Leonard played in Coker who cut it back, but Gills managed to scramble clear.
Southend were made to pay for not capitalising on their early pressure in the second period as McDonald levelled the scores on 56 minutes. The striker did well to find a yard in the box and smashed home from close range.
Just past the hour mark and Cox hit one just past the left-post after catching a volley. The game was now becoming very end-to-end with both sides eagerly looking to finish the tie inside the 90 minutes.
On as a substitute, Emmanuel-Thomas began to start pulling the strings for Gillingham in the final third with many busting from midfield for the overlap as they attempted to stretch Blues.
Emmanuel- Thomas got to the by-line himself with a clever step over and played one across goal in the direction of Hessenthaler with the goal gaping. Fortunately, Coker managed to get a vital toe to the ball and put it behind for a corner on 70 minutes.
The warning signs were there and sure enough Emmanuel-Thomas stepped up Gills the advantage, smashing a low-drive past Oxley from range on 73 minutes.
Blues weren’t to go down without a fight – Subs McGlashan and Bridge combined nicely with Cox, but the striker just couldn’t find Bridge with the return with slightly over ten minutes to go.
Emmanuel-Thomas looked to inflict futher pain on the Blues on 83’ – The former Arsenal man sold Coker before rifling a rasping shot which flashed wide.
A golden chance presented itself to Southend with under five minutes remaining – McGlashan sat one nicely for Leonard at the back post but he headed over.
As they were on Saturday, Southend were punished for not taking their chances. Emmanuel-Thomas wrapped the tie up on 87 minutes after rounding keeper Oxley and slotting into the empty net from Nelson’s long ball.
SOUTHEND XI | Oxley, Demetriou, White (C), Sokolik, Coker, O'Neill, Leonard, King, McLaughlin, Mooney, Cox.
SUBS | Smith, Thompson, Barrett, Atkinson, McGlashan, Bridge, Williams.
Gillingham XI | Nelson, Jackson, Ehmer, Hessenthaler, McDonald, Knott, Konchesky, Quigley, Pask, Dack, Wright (c).
SUBS | Hadler, Osadebe, Oshilaja, Oldaker, Byrne, Donnelly, Emmanuel-Thomas.
Attendance | 3,175 (359 Away)