GILLINGHAM Town manager Adrian Foster was left bemused by his side's second-rate performance as Sholing sent them crashing out of the FA Cup.
The Dorset outfit were one of only two teams from the Toolstation Western League Premier Division to make it to the Second Qualifying Round of the competition and Foster was left frustrated that his team did not make more of the occasion.
He said: "We didn't turn up for the game for the whole 90 minutes. I couldn't understand it. We did not play badly but we did not do the things we have been doing recently.
"We just did not perform and it would have been nice to bow out to a good side if we had put our all in but unfortunately we didn't. We did not get the ball down, we did not create anything.
"I am pleased with how far we have got in the competition but I just do not understand what happened. It was a big game and they were a beatable side. The only thing they had was two good strikers. They were more organised than us but they were not a better side than us, if we had played to our potential."
Gill's Evo Stik Southern League opponents started brightly and took the lead on ten minutes through captain Byron Mason, who fired home after the hosts failed to clear from a free kick. The score remained 1-0 until half time, and Mason doubled the Southampton club's lead two minutes after the break with a headed goal from a corner.
Sholing striker Lee Wort was then fouled in the penalty area by James Hatcher and he picked himself up to put the final nail in Gillingham's coffin from the spot. Benjani Ben-Salem won the Gills a penalty of their own a minute later but Lee Gale's conversion was nothing more than a consolation with ten minutes to go, and the game finished 3-1.
Gillingham's action in the FA Cup and FA Vase saw them go without playing a league game for more than a month, and while Foster is happy to have seen his side pit themselves against higher level opposition in that time, he hopes they can now begin to push towards the division's top spots.
"It has been very enjoyable," he said. "We have come away from the league for quite a while and it will be difficult to come back but everyone wants to get some points on the board now.
"We do not want to be games behind other teams. I have looked at the table and we are lucky because no teams have really taken control."
Gillingham played Bishop Sutton on Tuesday and visit Bristol Manor Farm on Saturday.
By Ethan Daish