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AFC Wimbledon 1 Gillingham 1 – League 1 match report

Gillingham survived a half with only 10 men to claim a point at AFC Wimbledon.

The Gills conceded a goal and had captain Lee Martin sent off before Sean Clare struck an equaliser in first half stoppage-time.

Harry Forrester hit the bar for the home side with five minutes left, as the hosts pushed for a winner, but Gills hung on.

Luke O'Neill takes on his man Picture: Ady Kerry
Luke O'Neill takes on his man Picture: Ady Kerry

The draw means it’s now seven without a win in the league for Ady Pennock’s side.

The Gills made two changes for the trip to Wimbledon with Clare replacing Jake Hessenthaler, making his first start since joining on loan from Sheffield Wednesday. Luke O’Neill replaced Ben Nugent as Pennock went for a flat-back four.

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Former Priestfield favourite Cody McDonald started on the bench for the hosts. Former Gills players Barry Fuller, Deji Oshilaja and Andy Barcham all started.

The Gills were chasing their first league win, at the seventh attempt, and also their first away goal of the season. Getting something from the match was crucial for Pennock after a rocky start to the campaign.

Much of the pre-match talk was about McDonald, but it was another former Gills man who struck the opener for Wimbledon.

Tom Eaves with the ball for Gillingham Picture: Ady Kerry
Tom Eaves with the ball for Gillingham Picture: Ady Kerry

Barcham’s cross eluded everyone and ended up in the back of the net, with Gills keeper Tomas Holy deceived by striker Lyle Taylor throwing a leg at the ball.

Holy had been overworked in the early stages, before conceding with 35 minutes gone. It had been a relentless start from the hosts.

Dean Parrett forced holy into his first save with just seconds gone, then less than a minute later Kwesi Appiah had a shot cleared off the line. The chances kept coming, Anthony Hartigan was denied by Holy’s flying save, Appiah blasted an effort wide and Taylor had a glancing header saved, all in the opening 10 minutes.

Gillingham edged into the game at the midway point of the first half. Martin put a shot wide but Wimbledon finally opened the scoring through Barcham.

Hopes faded when Martin was dismissed for a high challenge on Taylor but the Gills went into the break level when Clare struck into the bottom corner.

Appiah headed an early second half chance over and Holy made a good save as Fuller drove a shot through a crowded area.

Gabriel Zakuani had a header tipped over the bar and Eaves put an effort at the keeper, with both chances coming from Clare crosses. Eaves had another shot saved after a good interchange with sub Josh Parker.

Forrester smashed a shot off the bar from 20 yards and moments later forced Holy into a diving save. The home side almost snatched it in the final minute but Oshilaja’s effort was blocked on the line and George Francomb had a shot saved by Holy.

Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Francomb, Nightingale, Oshilaja, Parrett (Kaja 82mins), Hartigan, Trotter, Appiah (McDonald 70mins), Taylor, Barcham (Forrester 70mins). Subs not used: McDonnell, Sibbick, Egan, Kalambayi.

Gillingham: Holy, O’Neill, Ogilvie, Lacey, Zakuani, Byrne, Clare, Wagstaff, Martin, Eaves, Wilkinson (Parker 66mins). Subs not used: Ehmer, Hessenthaler, Nugent, Oldaker, Cundle, Arnold.

Attendance: 3,819 (411 away)

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