Keith Millen took charge of his first game as Interim Head Coach and Gills put in a great display to overcome MK Dons.
Gills climbed back into the top three of Sky Bet League 2 thanks to a 2-1 win over MK Dons at Priestfield.
Keith Millen took charge as Interim Head Coach and made changes with Tom Nichols and Ashley Nadesan coming into the attack. Jayden Clarke also started on the left side of midfield.
It was an energetic start from both teams as each side looked to assert their dominance and take control from the start.
MK Dons won an early free-kick wide of the box, which was taken short by Joe Tomlinson, it came to nothing however as the Gills backline remained alert and cleared their lines to see off the threat.
Tomlinson had another chance shortly after, linking up well with Mo Eisa to find some space and get a shot on Jake Turner’s goal. The strike was well dealt with by Alexander, the defender excelling to reach for a strong block.
Moments later, Ashley Nadesan was brought down inside the MK Dons area during a short break from defending for the home side, appeals for a penalty were waved away. The Gills forward seemed in some discomfort and would then receive treatment during a short break in play.
MK Dons continued to dominate the ball throughout the opening quarter of an hour, pressing in the final third and continuing to put pressure on the hosts.
Connor Mahoney showed great awareness from deep in the Gillingham half, spotting a clever run of Nadesan on the halfway line with a clearance, the forward chased the long ball but seemed to struggle before slumping onto the pitch. Keith Millen was then forced into an early change, replacing the forward with Macauley Bonne in the 18th minute.
Bonne was straight into the action, the substitute finding himself in the right position to get a shot on goal from a Nichols cross, his connection wasn’t quite there however, the front man sending his tame shot trickling past MacGillivray’s post.
The chance seemed to awaken the hosts after 20 minutes and the momentum seemed to shift almost immediately.
Bonne made an excellent run to find a ball over the top on 26 minutes, muscling past his centre back, showing calmness and composure before tucking it past an advancing MacGillvray and putting the Gills 1-0 up.
A dominant spell for Gillingham followed, Ethan Coleman unleashing a bullet from his right boot shortly after, the shot going millimetres wide of the post.
The visitors looked to regain some possession and had the ball in the net on 33 minutes. Dons forward Anthony Stewart was correctly deemed to have been offside however, ruling out the equaliser for the visitors.
Dons looked to build on that momentum and created several half-chances to threaten Jake Turner as the first half wore on. Gillingham, clearly playing with confidence after a strong half, did well to manage the game in the remaining minutes and get to the break in front.
HALF-TIME: Gillingham 1-0 MK Dons
MK Dons began the second half by making two substitutions, Jonathan Leko replacing Jack Payne and Ellis Harrison coming on for Joe Tomlinson.
The Gills looked dangerous from the restart, aiming to continue where they’d left off. After winning a corner for Mahoney to send in towards the near post, the cross was met by Bonne who was now looking for his second of the afternoon, the effort going just over the crossbar.
The Dons had a chance to break on the counter, escaping the Gillingham pressure. Matthew Dennis found himself with only Shad Ogie to beat. The defender was alert however and put in a top-quality challenge, winning possession and allowing his team mates to clear.
Gillingham would double their lead with a second goal on the 55-minute mark.
Tom Nichols won possession high up the pitch and broke with pace, catching the MK Dons defence completely off guard with three on one. The forward then opted to play a simple pass around Craig MacGillivray for Scott Malone to tap home, 2-0 to the Gills.
MK Dons Manager Graham Alexander responded to his side going two goals down by making his third substitute of the afternoon on 65 minutes. Max Dean came on to replace Matt Dennis.
Connor Masterson prevented a potential MK Dons goal shortly after, the visitors doing well to link up for an excellent opportunity to threaten Jake Turner's goal. The centre-back getting a strong block on the resulting shot before a follow up strike from Mo Eisa was deflected for the Gills keeper to gather.
Keith Millen made a double substitution with a quarter of an hour left to play, opting to sacrifice some attacking threat to sure up the defence.
Tom Nichols and Jayden Clarke came off to be replaced by Max Ehmer and Max Clark.
No sooner had the Interim Head Coach made his changes, Conor Mahoney broke on goal.
The player, having three Gillingham players in the attack with him, and the MK defence all at sea, the winger looked to seal a third goal for Gillingham by taking a shot at goal. Craig MacGillvray did everything right however, charging out to snuff out the opportunity.
The game would slowly start to turn in MK Dons favour in the closing period, and the visitors found a lifeline with 82 minutes on the clock.
Ellis Harrison positioning himself perfectly in the box, before meeting a dangerous cross into the Gillingham area and producing a skilful touch to put it past Jake Turner. The visitors were now chasing an equaliser.
MK Dons came back into the game and were in the ascendancy. Numerous chances to find a second goal were to come in the final ten minutes.
Max Dean forced a fantastic save from Jake Turner in the 87th. The player unleashing a superb right-footed strike inside the box, forcing a diving save from Turner to push the shot around the post.
Keith Millen looked to fresh legs to see out the game, bringing on Robbie Mckenzie in place of Connor Mahoney, who had been excellent for the Gills all afternoon.
Six minutes of added time came, and the Dons looked the likelier to score, pushing for a late goal that would give them a point on the road.
Daniel Harvie saw red in the 92nd minute. The referee booking the player for the second time after a rash tackle whilst looking to win back possession saw him commit a foul.
Gillingham would manage the dying minutes well, seeing off a wave of late pressure from their visitors and taking a deserved three points on the day.
FULL-TIME: Gillingham 2-1 MK Dons
Gillingham: Turner, Alexander, Masterson, Ogie, Malone, Mahoney (McKenzie 88’), Coleman, Jefferies, Clarke (Clark 75’), Nichols (Ehmer 75’), Nadesan (Bonne 18’)
Unused Substitutes: Morris, Sithole, Macarthur
MK Dons: MacGillivray, Norman, O’Hora, Williams, Gilbey, Eisa, Payne (Leko 46’), Tomlinson (Harrison 46’), Harvie, Stewart, Dennis (Dean 65’)
Unused Substitutes: Kelly, Tucker, Smith, Devoy
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Attendance: 6119 (323 Away)