MK DONS 3-2 GILLINGHAM: MATCH REPORT
Gillingham fell to another heart-breaking defeat against MK Dons on Saturday afternoon, as they seemed to have secured an unlikely point before conceding right at the death in a highly dramatic game at Stadium MK.
A stunning goal from Robbie Muirhead and neatly-taken Harvey Barnes finish looked to have set the Dons on course for three easy points. However, the Gills responded through an exquisite Cody McDonald strike before Josh Wright tucked home the rebound from his own penalty in the 90th minute with George Williams sent off for bringing down McDonald.
Unfortunately, the drama wasn’t complete as Dean Lewington got up highest to loop a free-kick into the goal in added time to give the Dons three points, with Bradley Dack dismissed for a second yellow to compound the Gills’ misery.
Gillingham head coach Ady Pennock handed Harry Cornick his first start for the Gills as he lined up on the right-wing. Pennock also brought Zesh Rehman back into the starting XI after his suspension and Ryan Jackson started at right back with Scott Wagstaff missing through injury.
Cornick started the game in a lively fashion and nearly latched onto a through ball, after Dack caught the home defence napping out with an arrowing first-time free-kick on the half way line.
The home side nearly opened the scoring soon after but Tomas Holy got down well to block a close-range strike. However, MK Dons took the lead after just five minutes with a brilliant 30-yard strike from Muirhead that found the top corner, giving Holy no chance.
Lee Martin had the first Gillingham attempt of the game but he blazed over after cutting in from the left following a neat move from the visitors.
The Dons doubled their lead after just ten minutes as a slick Kieran Agard back-heel put Barnes in on goal and he slotted past Holy for their second of the afternoon.
Despite the early setbacks, Gillingham were looking lively and Dack nearly caught the MK keeper out with a vicious in-swinging corner that was punched out from under his crossbar. The Gills midfielder then went close for the away side as he embarked on a skilful run, beating a couple of Dons defenders before his curling effort was deflected just wide.
Max Ehmer found the target with a close-range header after Martin did well to recycle a Dack free-kick, with the Gills continuing to press the Dons in the hunt for a route back into the contest.
Holy had no chance with either of the first two Dons goals, but he was at his best to deny the home side twice in quick succession beating the first attempt away from Baldock before reacting quickly to save from Agard, who had time and space in the box in the 36th minute.
The red-clad visitors pushed forward as the game meandered to half-time, but were struggling to breach the Dons’ defence and the Gills failed to test Lee Nicholls again before the break.
H/T: 2 – 0
Martin had a golden chance to bring Gillingham back into the game after 51 minutes as the Dons keeper dropped a cross under pressure from McDonald, but the midfielder placed his shot inches wide of the right-hand post.
MK Dons had their first effort two minutes later but Stuart O’Keefe could only drag his shot harmlessly wide of the visitors’ goal.
The Gills were back in the game after 56 minutes through a fantastic goal from McDonald. Martin whipped in a great ball from the left and the striker managed to squeeze the ball into the far-right corner with a cute flick-on.
The game opened up as Gillingham looked to capitalise on their momentum. A great-through ball from Ehmer found McDonald in on the right-hand channel of the Dons box, but his pull back eluded everybody. MK charged up the other end and Deji Oshilaja did brilliantly to deny Agard as he prepared to pull the trigger from inside the Gills box.
Holy pulled off another great save as Agard looked to tap in a low cross but the big Czech got across quickly to block the striker’s effort.
The game broke up a little as Pennock brought on Josh Parker and Elliot List, but the Gills were looking increasingly threatening as MK Dons tightened up. Mark Byrne had a fierce shot deflected wide before the Dons keeper comfortably claimed Martin’s free kick on the corner of the box.
Dean Bowditch nearly put the game beyond doubt in the 87th minute as Holy kept out a powerful free kick but the Dons striker couldn’t control the rebound, with the ball coming at him quick, and could only fire over.
The Gills were awarded a penalty in the 89th minute as Williamsbrought down McDonald after a huge goal kick from Holy, with Baldock receiving his marching orders for a second yellow. Wright’s first effort was saved by the ‘keeper but he followed up quickest to equalise for the Gills right in front of the 650 travelling fans.
The home side were ahead just one minute later though as Lewington headed in a deep free-kick with Zesh Rehman just unable to clear off the line. In the aftermath, Dack was shown a second yellow card for dissent to leave the game ten apiece and the Dons were able to see out the game and snatch all three points.
F/T: 3 – 2
The Gills host rivals Millwall next Saturday in a hugely significant clash for both sides with the season nearly at a close.
MK Dons: Nicholls; Baldock, Lewington, Walsh, Muirhead; Upson (Potter, 69), Reeves (Downing, 90+3), O’Keefe, Williams; Barnes, Agard (Bowditch, 69)
Unused subs: Burns (GK), Ngombo, Brittain, Maynard
Gillingham: Holy; Oshilaja, Rehman, Ehmer, Jackson (List, 77); Wright, Byrne, Dack, Cornick (Parker, 78), Martin(Donnelly, 90); McDonald
Unused subs: Nelson (GK), Hessenthaler, Muldoon, Quigley
Attendance: 8,807 (650)
Referee: Carl Boyeson