AFC Wimbledon 0-1 Gillingham
Debutant Romain Vincelot’s first half strike secures three more precious points for the table topping Gills.
With the team nursing one or two knocks following the midweek defeat at Torquay, Martin Allen made six changes to his starting XI for the trip to the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Romain Vincelot, signed on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion, made his debut in midfield while Frampton, Montrose, Strevens, Kedwell and Weston all returned to the side, midfielder Charlie Lee made a welcome return from injury on the substitute’s bench.
The Gills raced out of the blocks, looking to force an early advantage by taking the game to their hosts and were unlucky not to take the lead in the 10th minute. Ben Strevens was well placed to connect with Danny Kedwell’s low centre from the right, sadly his effort drifted just wide of Seb Brown’s far post.
Moments later keeper Brown came to his side’s rescue with a brilliant reaction save to deny Myles Weston’s near post header from another excellent Kedwell delivery.
Chances continued to come for the visitors with Kedwell and Ben Strevens combining well to present Chris Whelpdale with a chance to shoot from the edge of the box on 21 minutes, but his low drilled effort was hit directly at the keeper.
Then just two minutes later, the Gills finally got the lead their early dominance warranted as debutant Romain Vincelot pounced on a Whelpdale throw and smashed into the bottom corner from the edge of area.
Having failed to conjure a shot on goal in the opening half hour, Vincelot’s strike stirred the Dons into a response. Lively loan signing George Francomb looked the home side’s brightest prospect and was unlucky not to find Jack Midson with a wicked cross from the right that flashed across the face of goal before Matt Fish was able to head clear.
Having soaked up a spell of Wimbledon pressure, Gills then looked to extend their lead before the interval. Full-back Fish going closest with an angled drive to the top right corner which Brown had to palm clear, leaping high to his left.
It took 45 minutes but on the stroke of half time, the Dons finally managed their first shot on target. Jack Midson nodding back to Stacy Long for the diminutive midfielder to curl an effort goalwards, though it was never in danger of testing Gills No 1 Stuart Nelson.
H/T 1-0 Gills
There was early controversy at the start of the second half as Danny Kedwell climbed with Seb Brown to contest a high ball. The Dons keeper dropped it and seemed to clip Chris Whelpdale in the area as he struggled to recover his composure but the referee waved away appeals for a spot kick.
Both sides went in search of goals in the opening exchanges and there were good openings at either end. First Myles Weston connected with Kedwell’s clever pass to the far post but his shot was blocked by Curtis Osano before Francomb powered a shot from distance just over Nelson’s top right corner.
The Norwich City loanee had the Dons best chance of the game on 56 minutes with another powerful effort from outside the area, the ball bent in the area but once more Stuart Nelson was more than equal to the challenge, diving to his right to palm the effort to safety.
On the hour mark Rashid Yussuff struck a free-kick from the right into the arms of Nelson, before Francomb flashed a low drive wide of the keeper’s right hand upright as the home side battled to get back into the match.
The home side didn’t have things all their own way, though, as Chris Whelpdale gave the Dons food for thought with a powerful effort that just cleared the bar on 68 minutes, after good link up play with Kedwell.
Soon after, Yussuff’s deflected effort fizzed just wide at the other end and from the resulting corner a goalmouth scramble ensued but the Gills defence remained resolute.
With just under 15 minutes left on the clock Martin Allen made his first change of the afternoon, introducing Charlie Lee, in place of Myles Weston, to reinforce the Gills midfield. The move almost delivered instant results as Lee’s long throw was flicked on by Kedwell prompting a fine save from Brown.
Defending from the front, Lee earned the game’s first booking for a challenge on Dons’ keeper Seb Brown as they both contested a long ball down the line by Andy Frampton. While home skipper Steven Gregory blasted over from a free-kick as the closing seconds ebbed away but the Gills were not to be denied a sixth away league win of the season.
Attendance: 4546 (856 Gillingham)
Gillingham: Stuart Nelson, Matt Fish, Adam Barrett, Tom Flanagan, Andy Frampton, Lewis Montrose, Chris Whelpdale, Romain Vincelot, Ben Strevens, Danny Kedwell, Myles Weston (Charlie Lee 76)
Subs not used: Tommy Forecast, Callum Davies, Danny Jackman, Bradley Dack, Jack Payne, Charlie Lee, Robbie Findley
AFC Wimbledon: Seb Brown, Curtis Osano, Curtis Haynes-Brown (Christian Jolley 86), Rashid Yussuff, Yado Mambo, Will Antwi, Stacy Long (Luke Moore 66), Steven Gregory, Byron Harrison, Jack Midson, George Francomb
Subs not used: Jim Fenlon, Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz, Louis Harris, Warren Cummings, Frankie Merrifield
Referee: C Sarginson
Assistants: G Stretton and E Smart
4th Official: I Fissenden