Gillingham lost their opening League 2 match of the season in a battle between two sides relegated last term.
A fine strike from Ethan Chislett put hosts AFC Wimbledon ahead after a disappointing first 45 minutes for Neil Harris’ men. Ben Reeves’ introduction helped turn Gillingham into more of an attacking threat but it wasn't enough and Jack Currie made it 2-0 to the Dons.
With captain Stuart O’Keefe missing injured and striker Lewis Walker not registered in time, the Gills topped up their bench with two of the youth team. Joe Gbode and Matt MacArthur made up the 18-man squad.
Nine of Gillingham’s starting XI were summer signings, including returning keeper Glenn Morris who got the nod ahead of Jake Turner.
Manager Neil Harris was forced to conduct things from the main stand after his one-match touchline ban was served from the previous campaign. He was in radio contact with keeper coach Deren Ibrahim.
The Wimbledon defence didn’t look too assured, especially early on, but the Gills were unable to capitalise in the opening half.
Wimbledon took a 15th minute lead and it came from a shot that Morris could do little to stop, Chislett’s rifled effort from the edge of the box finding the top corner after Elkan Baggott had headed clear a corner into his path.
Jack Currie was a threat for the hosts on their left side with his energy and skill but it was from Lee Brown’s balls in that led to a Chris Gunter shot that needed saving and later on a header from Will Nightingale that went wide.
Gillingham had struggled to create anything meaningful in the opening half, lacking the same intensity as the hosts did in attack.
Harris made a switch at the break with Ben Reeves taking to the field in an attempt to get things happening for Gills going forward. He withdrew midfielder Dom Jefferies but stuck to the 4-2-3-1 set-up, dropping Olly Lee into the defensive role as Reeves aided the attack.
Backed by around 1,200 visiting fans, the Gills looked instantly better with Green slicing an early chance narrowly wide and Kashket moments later flashing a low cross in that Mikael Mandron couldn’t quite reach. Reeves was involved in both moves.
Half-time substitute Reeves managed to test home keeper Nik Tzanev from a free-kick that was claimed at the second attempt.
Referee Simon Mather wasn’t shy to issue a yellow card and Wimbledon’s Paris Maghoma went into his book after going down inside the box when under pressure from Lee. The official felt it was a dive.
Despite Gills’ improvements, Wimbledon doubled their lead with 20 minutes left. The goal originated from a throw-in and from Will Nightingale’s curling cross Currie stole in past former Dons player Cheye Alexander and headed home.
With 10 minutes left youth player Joe Gbode was introduced along with left-sided player David Tutonda but Wimbledon had no trouble easing their way to full-time.
Wimbledon: Tzanev, Nightingale, Pearce, Brown, Gunter, Currie, Marsh, Maghoma, Chislett (Bendle 87mins), Assal (Young-Coombes 90mins), Davison (Hudlin 87mins). Subs not used: Broome, Kalambayi, Ogundere, Adjei-Hersey, .
Gillingham: Morris, Wright (Alexander 67mins), Law (Tutonda 82mins), Ehmer, Baggott, Williams, Jefferies (Reeves 46mins), Lee, Green, Kashkett (Gbode 82mins), Mandron. Subs not used: Turner, MacDonald, MacArthur.
Attendance: 7,752 (1,172 away)