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Gills 2 MK Dons 2

Gillingham respond almost immediately as Adam Miller's free-kick makes it 1-1
Gillingham respond almost immediately as Adam Miller's free-kick makes it 1-1

Adam Miller fires in a free kick to make it 1-1 between Gillingham and MK Dons in the first half at Priestfield. Picture: Barry Goodwin

by Luke Cawdell

Andy Barcham added another classy goal to his collection to rescue a point for ten-man Gillingham at Priestfield on Saturday.

The Gills had to come back from a goal down twice in the match and had to play the whole of the second half with only ten men against play-off chasing MK Dons.

Gillingham finished the first half at Priesfield a man down and a goal behind during an all-action first 45 minutes but they refused to submit to the Dons.

Adam Miller had pulled the Gills level with a free-kick just two minutes after his side fell a goal behind to David McCracken’s 18 minute strike.

The Gills were reduced to ten men late in the half, as Dennis Oli picked up two bookings, and in stoppage time the Dons added a second goal through Jermaine Easter.

Mark Stimson’s Gillingham side had it all to do in the second half and only the crossbar denied Easter from making it 3-1 a minute after the restart.

Despite the pressure the Gills managed to draw level when Barcham smashed home past Willy Gueret with 65 minutes gone and they survived to take a precious point from the League 1 match.

The Gills had fallen behind when McCracken netted the goal from close range after his initial effort struck the post. He had remained inside the penalty area after Gillingham cleared a free-kick.

Just two minutes later the scores were level when a free-kick at the other end was buried by Adam Miller after Curtis Weston had laid the ball off.

Alan Julian had to make a smart save just before the half-hour to deny MK Dons’ Luke Chadwick. The Gills had been caught on the break but the keeper was there to keep the game on level terms.

Julian again saved well to tip Aaron Wilbraham’s effort onto the frame of the goal and out for a corner.

It wasn’t all one way traffic and Gillingham had their own moments, with Weston coming close twice in the half. His first effort early on was a bad miss but the second was deflected wide.

Gillingham had appeals for a penalty turned down midway through the half, when Oli went down under a challenge but referee Phil Crossley booked the forward for diving. That proved costly as Oli’s foul on Dean Lewington after 42 minutes earned him a second booking and a premature end to his afternoon.

It got even worse for the Gills in first half injury time as Lewis Gobern’s run created panic in the Gills box. His cross was cleared into the path of Jermain Easter and the MK Dons man headed home.

Easter almost doubled his tally seconds into the start of the second half, when he ran onto a through ball and lobbed Julian, only for his effort to bounce off the bar.

The Gills were back on level terms just past the hour mark when Barcham’s clever flick left defender Sean O’Hanlon flat-footed. The wideman then surged towards goal before smashing a shot past the visiting keeper. 2-2.

Easter again came close in the 73 minute, with a powerful shot from six yards out that was brilliantly blocked by defender Darren Dennehy, saving a certain goal.

Boss Mark Stimson was happy to settle for a point a piece on a difficult afternoon.

He said: “We needed something from the game and to get zero points would have been disappointing. We wanted three but we got one.

“Dennis’ sending off was harsh. The assistant said to me he was going at pace and caught him and my response to that was, ‘well, he’s not going to jog!’ He slid in and it was harsh. Dennis was distraught afterwards as he had just got into a bit of form.

“It was a test for us. Eleven versus eleven would have been hard but to lose a player like Dennis made it hard for us. Full credit to the boys, they came out second half and really had a good go, got the second goal and after that even tried to go forward.

“They got caught a couple of times on the break but we were going to against a side like MK Dons because they have some good players.”

Gills: Julian, Lewis, Nutter, Richards, Dennehy, Miller, Jackman, Weston (Dickson 81mins), Barcham, Oli, Howe. Subs: Royce, Bentley, Palmer, Maher, Walker, Payne.

MK Dons: Gueret, Doubme (Randall 80mins), McCracken, Tunnicliffe (O'Hanlon 46mins), Lewington, Gobern (Woodards 64mins), Leven, Gleeson, Chadwick, Easter, Wilbraham. Subs: Davis, Howell, Carrington, Searle.

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