A first half brace from Danny Kedwell helped guide the Gills to a well-deserved first home league win of the season in a thoroughly entertaining 3-2 victory at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
The striker converted two spot kicks in the opening 15 minutes to put the hosts ahead, with former Gills loanee Tom Flanagan seeing red for conceding the second penalty, having already being punished for the offence which led to the first.
Patrick Bamford bagged a brace himself for the visitors before the interval to make it a level game again, but Danny Hollands’ header on the hour mark was enough to seal maximum points.
Martin Allen named an unchanged line-up for the game with Callum Davies retaining his place at centre-back alongside Adam Barrett.
Steven Gregory also got the nod ahead of Amine Linganzi who was named among the substitutes alongside Bayo Akinfenwa and Bradley Dack.
The game got off to a lively start and referee, James Linington, had an early decision to make with Danny Green going down inside the Gills box after alleged contact with Joe Martin.
The midfielder felt he should have had a penalty but the referee disagreed and instead brandished a yellow card for simulation.
At the other end four minutes later the referee did award a penalty kick when McDonald was brought down inside the area after some clever foot work, and Danny Kedwell stepped up to smash past David Martin.
Amazingly two minutes later the hosts were awarded a second spot kick when Flanagan brought down McDonald with only Martin to beat.
The centre back was dismissed immediately with a straight red card and Kedwell blasted the ball home as the Rainham End exploded in to life.
Alan Smith, formerly of Leeds United, was brought on in place of Samir Carruthers to add bodies to the midfield, but this didn’t stop Gillingham’s assault on the Dons goal with Hollands striking wide on 18 minutes.
Three minutes later and a second penalty appeal was waved away for the Dons with Bamford being brought down by Barrett.
The visiting supporters, along with Manager Karl Robinson, felt it was a clear foul but the referee again waved away the appeals.
Izale McLoed was then introduced to add a physical presence up top, and it seemed to have a positive effect as on 26 minutes the Dons pulled a goal back.
Green’s free kick on the right hand side was aimed towards the penalty spot, and Bamford rose highest to convert beyond the helpless Stuart Nelson.
The game was turned on its head on the half hour mark when Bamford scored his second of the game after a fantastic through ball split the Gills defence.
Bamford advanced on goal and calmly slotted the ball away to silence the home faithful.
On 34 minutes Gills should have re-taken the lead when Charlie Lee’s header was tipped over by Martin. Chris Whelpdale’s cross was flicked on by McDonald and the keeper had to be alert to deny a third for the hosts.
The game had been end to end since the first MK Dons goal, and McLoed could have completed the comeback when his shot from the edge of the box on the right hand side went wide of the post by just a few feet.
Two minutes before the interval and the Gills had an opportunity themselves to re-assert themselves and take the lead once more.
Whelpdale found some space on the edge of the area and picked out Gregory – unknown to him goalkeeper Martin and Smith were injured on the goal line and, luckily for them, saw the midfielder’s effort go wide.
Within a minute of the second half starting Lee struck the outside of the post and Whelpdale saw a header go wide as Gills looked to boss proceedings in the early stages.
The numerical advantage finally paid off on 59 minutes when Whelpdale released Harriman on the right hand side, he delivered a beautiful cross for Hollands and he forced his header home with Martin not getting enough on it to keep it out.
On 66 minutes substitute Myles Weston, on for Mcdonald, rounded the keeper but couldn’t add his name to the score sheet after striking wide from an ever increasing angle.
Bamford could have then sealed his hat-trick when McLeod’s cross found the forward at the back post, but Nelson was down quickly to push the chance away and retain the lead.
The keeper did well again on 73 minutes to deny sub Daniel Powell when he almost beat the Gills number one to tap in an equalizer, but at full stretch he claimed the ball before sportingly kicking the ball straight out of play so his opposite number could receive some treatment.
Martin was able to continue but was clearly struggling as Lee struck across the face of goal prior to McLoed’s shot at the other end on 83 minutes which went inches wide of Nelson’s left post.
As the clock ticked down the tension was evident as the fans waited for the final whistle, and only Shaun Williams’ effort in the last minute created any nerves.
His long range strike was comfortably stopped by Nelson, and moments later Kedwell came within inches of sealing the win for good at the other end, but his right foot toe poke just brushed the far post.
Gills: Nelson, Harriman, Davies, Barrett, Martin, Gregory, Lee, Hollands, Whelpdale, McDonald (Weston 55), Kedwell.
Unused subs: Howard, Legge, Allen, Dack, Linganzi, Akinfenwa
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Flanagan, Hodson, Williams, Gleeson, Potter, Chadwick (Powell 61), Bamford, Carruthers (Smith 15), Green.
Unused subs: Otsemobor, Reeves, Mcloughlin, Banton.
Referee: Mr J Linington
Bookings: Green (5), Martin (23), Lee (89), Williams (90)
Red Cards: Flanagan (12)
Goals: Kedwell (11, 13) Bamford (26 & 30), Hollands (59),
Attendance: 5410 (343 MK )