Crawley Town 2 Gillingham 2 (Gillingham win 10-9 on penalties): Shootout heartache for Reds in Carabao Cup
It was cup heartache for Crawley as they lost in a dramatic penalty shootout against League One Gillingham.
It was a happy return to Broadfield for Steve Evans as the visitors progressed to the second-round of the Carabao Cup, after a 2-2 draw in normal time.
However, it wasn't plain sailing against a Crawley side which dominated for large periods of the game in front of 1,904 returning fans.
Gillingham thought they had won it in the fourth minute of injury-time with a superb volley but Crawley rose from the ashes and levelled in the dying moments.
However, after an impressive penalty shootout, in which 19 penalties were scored, Gillingham won 10-9. New signing Ludwig Francillette was the only player to miss his spot-kick.
Disappointing end to outstanding cup tie
John Yems made six changes to the side which lost 1-0 at Hartlepool, with Blondy Nna Noukeu, Francillette and Will Ferry making their debuts. Tom Dallison, George Francomb and Sam Ashford also came in.
Glenn Morris, Archie Davies, Owen Gallagher and Jack Powell dropped to the bench, whilst Jordan Tunnicliffe and Sam Matthews were not in the squad.
The Reds made a positive start with teenager Ferry putting a very early free-kick wide.
However, it was Gillingham who struck first in controversial fashion. Gerald Sithole was the scorer but it appeared that the forward fouled Crawley's goalkeeper - 19-year-old debutant Nna Noukeu - in doing so. The fans were not shy in venting their anger at the referee.
Crawley responded well. Sam Ashford got a solid connection on a George Francomb cross but he could only direct his header wide of the target.
Reds fans thought their side had equalised when Frost struck into the side netting after he was found by former Gills man Jake Hessenthaler.
Gillingham still looked a threat on the counter, as Akehurst fired a shot inches wide of the post.
Crawley were then denied an equaliser by a magnificent save from Chapman. Craig’s powerful header looked to be destined for the back of net but the keeper somehow kept it out.
It was then a case of déjà vu as fans cheered another Frost strike which looked to have hit back of the net but it was the side netting once again.
Crawley started the second half in the same vain, on the front foot and pushing for an equaliser. The dangerous Frost was played in behind the back line by a brilliant Hessenthaler through-ball. The resulting cross was knocked behind for a corner.
Crawley got their richly deserved equaliser when Ashford slid the beyond the keeper after a great cross by Ferry.
Reds were immediately back on the attack, looking for another goal, but Nadesan couldn't quite get enough on his header after a good move.
Gillingham responded with a good attack which resulted in Craig deflecting the ball inches over his own bar.
Visitors almost took the lead with a spectacular strike but Blondy was equal to it to put it out for a corner.
Up the other end, Crawley were denied by the keeper twice in quick succession - first Ashford was played in by Nadesan but he couldn't beat Chapman before Ferry also had an effort palmed away.
In the final 15 minutes, Gillingham boss Evans was dismissed from the dugout after an argument with the officials, following Francillette's yellow card-earning challenge. It was a decision which delighted the home fans who erupted with chants and taunts.
In a stunning final few minutes of injury-time, it looked like Reds' hearts would be broken when Daniel Phillips scored a sublime volley.
Crawley didn't give in and, incredibly, levelled the scoring for a second time with virtually the last kick of the game to take the match to penalties.
It was substitute Archie Davies who slotted past Chapman after the full-back controlled the ball brilliantly from Powell's inch-perfect through-ball.
After a marathon penalty shootout, Francillette blinked first and Lintott took advantage to seal a thrilling cup tie.
Crawley: Nna Noukeu, Dallison, Francillette, Craig, Francomb, Payne (Powell 88), Hessenthaler, Ferry, Frost (Tilley 69), Ashford (Davies 80), Nadesan.
Subs: Morris, Gallagher, Khaleel, Al-Hussaini.
Gillingham: Chapman, O'Keefe, Ehmer, Lee, Bennett (Lloyd 61), Phillips, Sithole, Lintott, Carayol (Oliver 69), Maghoma, Akehurst (Tutonda 80).
Subs: Cumming, Tucker.
Sponsors Man of the Match: Tony Craig