Gillingham slipped to defeat at home against relegation threatened MK Dons on Thursday evening at MEMS Priestfield Stadium, with Navid Nasseri’s first goal for the Club the main highlight for the hosts.
Chuks Aneke gave the visitors the lead midway through the half as he ran through and placed a shot past Tomas Holy despite claims of handball in the build-up before Nasseri headed home at the back post – his first ever strike in the EFL – to take the sides in level at the break.
An end-to-end second half appeared to be meandering towards a draw before George Williams prodded past Holy following a lightening counter attack with just six minutes left to play as the visitors took all three points back to Milton Keynes in a 2-1 victory.
Steve Lovell handed Nasseri his first Gillingham start replacing Lee Martin who missed out through injury, with the Gills otherwise unchanged following a positive performance at Bradford on Saturday.
The hosts started the stronger of the two teams with Scott Wagstaff floating a couple of great balls into the MK box however they were well defended.
The first proper chance of the game was for the visitors however after they won a free-kick 25 yards from goal, but Upson’s shot was well blocked by the Gillingham wall. On the counter attack, Agard then had another opportunity but Gabs Zakuani got back well to make the challenge and divert the ball away from danger.
Wagstaff was looking lively down the right and he did well to win a free-kick on the right of the box after a trademark dart down the flank, but the training ground free-kick went awry and Nasseri’s snap-shot went whistled well wide from the top of the box.
From another attack down the right, the Gills went the closest they had been to taking the lead after 17 minutes with Wagstaff and then Luke O’Neill delivering two crosses in succession that had the MK keeper in trouble with Wilkinson inches away from beating him to the second ball in.
Following a slight lull in play, a brilliant solo run from Nasseri brought the crowd to life as he jinked the from the centre out to the left before darting back in again, but his final shot let him down with the ball flying harmlessly behind.
The pressure was mounting and the Gills went even closer half way through the period when a great team move ended with Mark Byrne slipping Jake Hessenthaler in on goal, but with the keeper making himself big Hessenthaler’s dinked finish was just the wrong side of the post.
Tomas Holy was called into action for the first time in the game after the half-hour following a spell of MK pressure, as he got down well to beat away Upson’s shot from the edge of the box.
That warning shot was not heeded by the Gills with the visitors taking the lead through Aneke moments later. Agard won the ball in the middle of the park and played it into the big striker who advanced on goal and finished past Holy despite the home side’s appeals for handball as Aneke powered through.
However, the Gills were not behind for a long with NAVID NASSERI getting the equaliser on his full debut for the Club. A corner was headed clear but well recycled by Mark Byrne back to Bradley Garmston who delivered a peach of a cross and Nasseri was unmarked at the back post to nod home his first goal in the EFL after 41 minutes.
It was a deserved equaliser on the balance of play, with the Gills heading into the break on level terms.
H/T: 1 – 1
Gillingham were on the front foot immediately in the second period with Connor Ogilvie doing well to win a free-kick down the left although O’Neill’s dangerous cross just headed to safety by the visiting defence.
The game was very equal in the early stages with neither side able to establish a firm grip on the game. Aneke went close for MK, stinging the palms of Holy with a rasping drive from 25 yards, but the Czech goalie again got down well to beat it away.
The Gills, however, were right back at the visitors with a corner from O’Neill causing havoc in the MK area but the ball was finally scrambled away despite claims for a penalty as Ogilvie tussled for the ball on the ground.
Just after the hour, MK were convinced they should have had a penalty after substitute Brittain tumbled over in the box, but the referee adjudged the midfielder had dived and cautioned him much to the relief of Ogilvie.
The visitors were enjoying a spell of sustained pressure with their fans in the Gordon Road urging on the relegation battlers. But the Gills responded through neat play by Garmston and Wilkinson down the left flank with the latter chipping in a lovely cross that was just headed away from Wagstaff who was waiting to head home at the far post.
The introduction of Tom Eaves further pushed on the Gills who nearly took the lead through Byrne as he arrived late in the box to get on the end of Ogilvie’s cross but couldn’t keep his header down. A break from MK Dons then fizzled out as Aneke blazed over ignoring the dangerous run of Agard.
A dangerous break then saw Aneke slip the substitute Asante-Thomas in who was pulled down by Max Ehmer who was perhaps fortunate to escape with just a yellow. Aneke stepped up to take the free-kick but placed it tamely over the bar.
The Gills countered straight away with Eaves played in down the right but the keeper did well to get across and claim his low cross.
The visitors grabbed the lead with six minutes to go with a brilliant counter-attack with the ball eventually slipped into the path of Williams who prodded past Holy with Ehmer unable to clear the ball off the goal-line.
As the game ticked into additional time, Ogilvie stung the palms of Nicholls with a 30 yard drive after good hold up play by Eaves but the Gills were struggling to get in behind the visitors and were unable to test the MK keeper again.
F/T: 1 – 2
The Gills are back in action on Easter Monday when they make the short journey to take on Chris Powell’s Southend United at Roots Hall
Gillingham: Holy; O’Neill, Ehmer, Zakuani, Ogilvie; Byrne Hessenthaler; Wagstaff (Eaves, 69) Nasseri (Nugent, 90), Garmston; Wilkinson
Unused subs: Hadler (GK), Lacey, List, Moussa, Nash
MK Dons: Nicholls; Williams, Lewington, Ward, Wootton, Muirhead (Ebanks-Landell, 72); Upson, Pawlett (Brittain, 51), Cisse; Aneke, Agard (Thomas-Asante, 78)
Unused subs: Sietsma (GK), Reo-Coker, Golbourne, Ugbo
Referee: Mr John Busby
Attendance: 5,540 (443)