Richard Day reports from Beechings Cross
A indifferent performance throughout the 90-odd minutes saw the Gills held by AFC Wimbledon at Beechings Cross on Saturday morning.
Darren Hare’s side were sloppy to be honest, there were too many wrong decisions and they conceded a string of silly free-kicks all over the pitch.
In the opening 20 minutes Kane Haysman saw a header deflected wide and had another shot saved, at the other end Dan O’Neill had one effort fired at him while a couple of defenders also made some vital blocks.
A free-kick awarded for a needless nudge on Ashley Miller almost proved costly for a Dons side who had drawn two and lost the other of their first three games. Miller curled the resultant free-kick over the wall but it bounced off the top of the bar.
Five minutes before the break the Gills deservedly went ahead when Aiden Blanchard curled home a right-foot shot beyond Jordan Knight from around 20 yards.
The visitors best effort of the half came moments later when Thomas Beere got through but drilled a low shot wide of the target.
Seconds after the break Charlie Faylri went close for the Dons but the right-back’s next foray forward led to the equaliser. His strike was blocked at point blank range by Josh Maughan and referee Steve Brown pointed immediately to the spot, adjudging the Gillingham defender had handled the ball for which he was booked. Beere confidently struck the penalty beyond O’Neill.
There was a reshuffle in the 67 minutes when Charlie Webster replaced young Mitchell Dickenson and several players moved positions.
Wimbledon enjoyed a good spell of possession without looking to threatening but then fifteen minutes from time a great free-kick whipped in by Blanchard saw Haysman glance a header wide.
Chace Jacquart fired a fierce effort across the face of goal before Josh Staunton went from villain to hero within seconds for the Gills.
There were three minutes remaining when the defender, who had been swapped from right to left-back, lost possession on half way and the visitors spread the ball out to Beere. He slipped past a couple of defenders and O’Neill and shot goalwards which the recovering Staunton cleared off the line.
Then in time added on it was Blanchard’s turn to be in the right place to block another goalbound shot from Beere before Jack Sellens, a late substitute for George Humber, saw a header strike the bar after Blanchard’s cross was nodded back across goal by Michael Freiter.
Gills – O’Neill, Staunton, Dickenson (Webster 67), Freiter, Lee, Maughan, Coates, Blanchard, Humber (Iandolo 82), Miller (Sellens 82), Haysman. Unused subs: Nalder & Emptage
Dons – Knight, Faylri, Cunnington, Murray, Daley, Roberts, Pearce, Craig (Tarbie 74), Oakley, Jacquart (Baffour 78), Beere. Unused subs: Whiting, Haydon & Basker