Stuart O’Keefe: Walk to stadium may have helped Gillingham to shock Brentford

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Gillingham captain Stuart O’Keefe felt their impromptu stroll to Brentford helped them pull off a Carabao Cup shock.

The Gills’ team bus got stuck in the west London rush-hour traffic and spent more than an hour at a standstill around half a mile from the Gtech Community Stadium.

With the kick-off time already pushed back 20 minutes, manager Neil Harris and his squad eventually decided to walk the last part of the journey, clambering over barriers and fences to get to the ground.

When they finally arrived, the Sky Bet League Two strugglers stunned their top-flight hosts by snatching a 1-1 draw and triumphing 6-5 on penalties.

“In a weird way maybe it helped,” said midfielder O’Keefe. “We were stuck in traffic and we literally didn’t move for an hour and 20 minutes, so in the end we had to walk it.

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“But then we were straight into the warm-up, straight into the game and that was it. Someone mentioned we should do it every away trip now, but I’m not so sure.”

Gillingham did not get off to the start they wanted after England hopeful Ivan Toney put Brentford ahead after just three minutes.

But the Bees could not force a second goal and were hit with a sucker punch when Mikael Mandron headed home a 73rd-minute equaliser.

“It’s tough, when you come to these grounds against Premier League teams you always say ‘keep it tight’. It’s probably the last thing you say in the dressing room,” added O’Keefe,

“So when they get the early goal you can think the worst and you can capitulate and it could be a long evening for us, but we stood up.”

Gillingham went on to convert all six of their penalties and celebrated wildly when Mikkel Damsgaard’s spot-kick crashed back off the crossbar.

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“The gaffer said the pressure was on them, we’d done exceptionally well just to get to penalties. So if we win, we win. If not, so be it. But the standard of penalties was excellent,” said O’Keefe.

“For us to come here and put in that kind of performance, to dig in and show resilience is testament to the boys and shows we’ve got great guts and character.”

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