Chris Whelpdale and Adam Birchall are on target in victoryChris Whelpdale and Adam Birchall were the scorers as twenty-two Gillingham players got a further 40-minute pre-season run-out in a friendly win against a strong AFC Wimbledon outfit at Beechings Cross earlier today.
The game was played in four 20-minute periods with the Gills playing the same XI in the first two sections while Neal Ardley used 24 players using alternate sides which included both Andy Frampton and Barry Fuller.
It was a reasonably physical encounter with a number of chances at both ends. Whelpdale and Steven Gregory dragged shots wide of the target, Danny Kedwell headed a Myles Weston corner over while Tom Derry was denied by the legs of keeper Ashley Bayes.
The opening goal arrived in the 28th minute. Gregory burst forward from midfield and neatly set up Whelpdale who curled the ball home beyond the diving keepers left-hand from around 20-yards.
Almost immediately afterwards Chris Arthur, who had earlier drilled a low shot wide, broke through and drilled the ball wide of the advancing Stuart Nelson but saw the ball cannon back into play off the far post.
The equaliser did come in the 33rd minute though when Peter Sweeney struck home a sweet strike from the edge of the area.
Into the third period and Bradley Dack had seen a curling shot saved before Devante McKain met a Charlie Allen corner with a powerful header, only to see it crash down off the bar and bounce out.
What turned out to be the winner came in the 51st minute, Dack played the ball forward to Adebayo Akinfenwa who in turn set up Birchall to smack the ball home from the edge of the area. It was the strikers third goal in two pre-season appearances.
Bayes, now 41, collected a curling effort from Allen and then Birchall had an angled drive blocked by the Dons new goalkeeping coach.
Dack was then in the right place at the other end to clear a goalbound downward header before Youssouf Bamba saw an effort deflected just wide of Tom Gowan’s goal.
The young Gills keeper then touched a shot onto the woodwork and he was also in the right place to collect a glancing header from Luke Moore although the traffic wasn’t all one way but both Dack and Allen failed to keep their efforts down.
Gills team (first two periods) – Nelson, Hare, Martin, Legge, Davies, Whelpdale, Gregory, Lee, Weston, Kedwell, Derry
Gills team (second two periods) – Gowan, Fish, Muggleton, Barrett, McKain, Allen, Linganzi, Dack, Grant, Akinfenwa, Birchall