After a fine start to their FA Women's Premier League South campaign, the ladies came unstuck in their first League Cup group match against the current league leaders.
Gillingham scored early and it was 3-0 by the time Jenna Schillaci received her marching orders for a second yellow card.
Down to 10 players, Spurs showed spirit in the second half and made it 4-1 when Kim Lane's free-kick found the back of the net.
But it was soon 5-1 to the home side and 7-1 by the time Fran Gamble fired home the final goal of the game. Unfortunately, Robyn Downie was sent off late on as Spurs ended with nine players.
"Gillingham started quickly, went ahead and we just didn't recover from that," reflected manager Karen. "We struggled to find any form and Gillingham grew in confidence.
"We recovered in the second half and started well, scored but we soon gave away a penalty and that took the game away from us even further.
"Obviously, losing Jenna in the first half when we were already chasing the game didn't help, but the 10 players did what we asked of them and at least we scored a couple of goals.
"Speaking to the girls afterwards, we all felt it was a wake-up call.
"The players all know that more work needs to go into their performances as we were second best. We know that can't happen if we want to compete at this level."
Spurs Ladies v Gillingham: Sarah Waters, Natalie Grafton, Robyn Downie, Kim Lane, Davina Smith, Amy Cooper, Jenna Schillaci, Rosie Kmita (Derrie O'Halloran, 75), Molly Kmita (Shannon Maloney, 60), Wendy Martin (Fran Gamble, 70), Bianca Baptiste.