Sean Clare's goal earns Gills a point.
Ten man Gillingham put in a fine second half display to clinch a point in a 1-1 draw with AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night.
Andy Barcham scored the opener with a cross that whistled past Lyle Taylor and beyond Tomas Holy into the corner, only for Sean Clare to score the equaliser on his full debut just seconds after Lee Martin was sent off for an off the ball incident.
The visitors had to play the entire second half with ten men but put in a resilient, stubborn display to earn a point.
Ady Pennock made two changes to the side that lost 3-0 at Oxford United with Luke O’Neill replacing Ben Nugent and Clare coming in for Jake Hessenthaler, both of whom were among the substitutes.
The hosts burst out of the blocks with firstly Dean Parrett denied by Holy and then from the resulting corner Kwesi Appiah’s header was cleared off the line.
Holy had to make another save within the first three minutes as Anthony Hartigan tried his luck from range only to see the huge frame of the Gills keeper palm it wide for a corner which was eventually cleared.
Although the hosts dominated the early action they could have found themselves behind on 13 minutes when Martin got into the box from a tight angle on the left, he managed to get away a shot which George Long palmed away but the final touch came off a red shirt and so a goal kick was awarded.
Holy made another fine save on 17 minutes with his feet. Barcham again caused problems wide on the left, he pulled it back for Taylor who looked destined to find the net but the Gills keeper spread himself well and blocked an almost certain goal.
Half chances for Scott Wagstaff and Tom Eaves went begging and although the Gills did start to threaten they fell behind in the 35th minute. Barcham received the ball on the left and attempted to find Taylor at the far post, Zakuani looked like he was going to clear but couldn’t reach it and the ball whistled past the striker and straight into the net.
With half-time looming the game suddenly came to life. Lee Martin was sent off for an off the ball incident involving Lyle Taylor and although he protested his innocence he walked off to the dressing room with just seconds of the half remaining.
However that was still enough to produce an equalising goal. Clare, on his debut, found some space on the edge of the box and drilled an effort which came off the post and into the net to make it a level game at the interval.
Wimbledon were on the front foot straight from the off and looked to make their numerical advantage count. An early effort was headed over the top before Deji Oshilaja struck wide of the right hand post.
Another Holy save, this time from Barry Fuller, prevented the hosts from taking the lead before Long tipped over a Gabriel Zakuani header following Clare’s cross. A succession of corner kicks created half chances for Lacey and Eaves but again the Wimbledon back four resisted the pressure.
The introduction of Cody McDonald nearly produced a goal immediately, however somehow the Dons attack failed to convert from close range with Fuller pulling the ball back from the byline from just a couple of yards.
Both sides went looking for the winner; Eaves forced a fine stop from Long with Dons somehow smashing wide from a couple of yards out with the goal at their mercy.
AFC: Long, Fuller, Francomb, Nightingale, Oshilaja, Parrett (Kaja 82), Hartigan, Trotter, Appiah (McDonald 71), Taylor, Barcham (Forrester 71).
Unused subs: McDonnell, Sibbick, Egan, Kalambayi.
Gills: Holy, O’Neill, Lacey, Zakuani, Ogilvie, Byrne, Wagstaff, Clare, Martin, Eaves, Wilkinson (Parker 66).
Unused subs: Arnold, Ehmer, Nugent, Oldaker, Hessenthaler, Cundle.
Referee: Mr N Kinseley
Attendance: 3819 (411 Gills)