League One Gillingham stunned Premier League Cardiff City as Elliott List scored a 81st minute winner to book the hosts spot in the FA Cup fourth round.
It was a hard-fought victory for Steve Lovell’s men – who came out victorious despite Cardiff City dominating the game and being denied twice by the woodwork in just the second half alone.
It was a much-changed Cardiff side as Neil Warnock made seven changes from Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur; only Bruno Ecuele Manga, Sean Morrison, Callum Paterson and Bobby Reid were named on the team sheet for the second successive game.
Gillingham – who are currently positioned in 19th in League One – made just one enforced change as Billy Bingham was replaced by 21-year-old Elliott List.
It was List who had the first chance of the FA Cup third round tie as his right-footed effort from just outside the penalty area was saved by Cardiff shot-stopper Alex Smithies.
The visitors then began to dominant, with four chances being squandered in quick succession by ‘The Bluebirds’. Joe Bennett’s left-footed strike was saved in brilliant fashion before Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Loic Damour’s efforts were blocked by a sublime Gillingham defence and Bobby Reid’s shot from just outside the box went wide of the mark.
Neil Warnock’s Cardiff were warmed of Gillingham’s qualities just before the halfway stage as full-back Bradley Garmston bursted down the left-hand side and whipped in an inviting cross, only for target-man Tom Eaves’ headed effort to go narrowly over the crossbar.
The first chance of the second period of play went to the hosts as Connor Oglvie narrowly missed to the right, just minutes before Lovell’s side should have took the lead through Josh Parker – who somehow missed from very close range, following a threatening ball in from the right-hand side.
Gillingham’s opener did eventually come, however. Eaves’ terrific ball from the left side was met by Elliott List – who fired home from the centre of the penalty area to send the 7,000-strong Priestfield crowd into overdrive.
Following List’s opener, Callum Reilly came close just minutes later to doubling the hosts lead in injury time, as his right-footed effort beat Smithies in the Cardiff goal but agonisingly struck the bar.
Lovell’s Gillingham held on to a narrow victory and prevailed to the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2004 when they defeated Charlton Athletic before suffering a fourth round exit at the hands of Burnley – in then an all Championship affair.
Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock told BBC Sport: “I just wish we could go in front now and then, somebody told me we’ve only been in front 94 minutes this season.
“It seemed like we just wanted two or three more seconds every time we got a chance. I bet we would have missed their chance if we’d had it, we’d have had another two touches.
“I’ve no complaints with the attitude, just we wouldn’t have scored in a million years.”
Gillingham gaffer Steve Lovell told gillinghamfootballclub.com: “I’m very pleased for the Club for the players, the supporters, the Chairman, everyone. It’s a big result – we’ve beaten a Premier League side!
“As a Manager it’s one of the best results as it’s the highest opposition so it’s great and I’m delighted that it’s happened.”
Elliott List – who scored the winner – said: “It came to me, I opened up and I was going to put it in the far corner but I saw the keeper opening up so I reversed it.
“When Eavesy passed it to me I always thought it was coming to me. I was delighted. I didn’t know where I was running to but I got dragged down and bundled down.
“That’s the best moment in my career so far, scoring against a Premier League side in the FA Cup. It was my mum’s birthday so that one is probably for her.
“I want Man City away. It would be the stuff that dreams are made of and you never know what can happen. I’m an Arsenal fan, but I think they’re [City] the best team in the country at the minute.”