Super subs steal the show as Gills secure cup win at Plough Lane.
Gills scored twice within three minutes in the closing stages of the second half against AFC Wimbledon to book their place in the second round of the Carabao Cup.
Neil Harris’ men soaked up heavy pressure in the latter stages of the game but took the lead through Mika Mandron in the last minute of normal time before another sub, Jordan Green, wrapped up a 2-0 win with a cool finish inside the box in added time.
Mandron had already seen a goal disallowed for offside before he scored the opening goal of the game, with a strong penalty shout for a foul on David Tutonda being waved away by the referee earlier in the half.
Neil Harris made five changes to the team that defeated Rochdale 1-0 at the weekend. Jake Turner, David Tutonda, Cheye Alexander, Alex MacDonald and Lewis Walker all came into the starting XI.
Glenn Morris, Ryan Law, Ben Reeves, Mandron and Green were named among the subs alongside Bailey Akehurst and Joe Gbode.
Stuart O’Keefe and Dominic Jefferies both made the trip but were unable for selection due to injury.
Gills started the brighter and had a fantastic chance in the sixth minute to take the lead. Shaun Williams produced a superb through pass to cut open the AFC Wimbledon defence and Walker beat the offside trap to advance on goal.
Nathan Broome came out to reduce the gap, Walker picked his spot but missed the target by a matter of inches.
The hosts worked their way into the game and on the quarter hour mark nearly took the lead when Will Nightingale’s right footed powerful effort from 25 yards was palmed away by Jake Turner, the former Newcastle man having done well seconds before that to deny George Marsh.
As the half progressed it was the hosts who had the lion’s share of possession and Turner was called on again to make a strong save from Kyle Hudlin. The forward had the ball to his left hand side inside the penalty area, his effort was well struck but Turner stuck out his right leg to prevent an opening goal.
Nathan Young-Coombes’ first time shot inside the area also required Turner to make a stop, this one a bit more routine before gathering at the second attempt.
H/T: AFC Wimbledon 0-0 Gillingham
Williams was first to have a sight at goal following the interval; his left footed effort from range running wide of the right hand post.
A few minutes later and Nightingale went incredibly close when his header following Paris Maghoma’s corner was guided just inches beyond the far post, before Gills had a big shout for a penalty waved away.
Tutonda bursted into the box and looked set to either shoot or play a powerful pass across the face of goal. His legs appeared to be taken from him by Ogundere but the referee dismissed the appeals immediately.
Turner was at it again on 65 minutes, making himself big to deny Young-Coombes from close range; the offside flag had gone up but the keeper wasn’t to know and showed a lot of bravery to throw himself at the ball as the forward was about to pull the trigger.
In the 79th minute the Gills thought they had scored when Mandron bundled home from close range. As the visiting players and fans celebrated, the officials got together on the far side of the field and, following some deliberation, decided that the goal should be disallowed for offside.
As the clock ran down it was the hosts who went for the jugular and had a couple of strong opportunities. One falling to Jack Currie whose header was placed straight at Turner, and then Davison blazed over from close range.
Gills then turned the screw and seized the intiative in the last minute. Green was fouled in the build up and although the visiting players were furious at the decision, they kept possession and the former Sunderland man created space just outside the box and drilled a beauty of a left footed shot into the bottom corner to send the away fans into meltdown.
They had barely pulled themselves together when Green added a second, the winger producing a cool finish to roll the ball beyond Broome from inside the area.
F/T: AFC Wimbledon 0-2 Gillingham
AFC Wimbledon: Broome, Gunter, Nightingale, Marsh (Bartley 90+1), Young-Coombes (Chislett 65), Assal, Hudlin (Davison 66), Maghoma, Currie, Kalambayi, Ogundere (Fisher 80).
Unused subs: Tzanev, Robinson, Cosgrave, Bendle, Adjei-Hersey, Sutcliffe
Gills: Turner, Alexander, Ehmer, Baggott, Wright, Tutonda (Law 84), Lee, MacDonald (Green 56), Williams (Reeves 67), Kashket (Mandron 67), Walker.
Unused subs: Morris, Akehurst, Gbode
Referee: Mr Craig Hicks