Published: 01:53, 18 August 2021
| Updated: 10:54, 18 August 2021
Gillingham boss Steve Evans couldn't fault the spirit of his patched-up team at AFC Wimbledon.
Evans revealed he only had nine senior outfield players available at the start of the week and Ben Reeves and Robbie McKenzie featured having hardly had a training session worthy of the name behind them.
Despite being reduced to 10 men after David Tutonda's red card, Gills still had enough character and fight in them to snatch a last-gasp equaliser having fallen behind with just minutes remaining for the second game in a row.
"The one thing you get is that we will fight to the end," said Evans. "I don't think we played well. Our best spell was 10-15 minutes before half-time when I thought we started to dominate the game and put them under a little bit of pressure and played like we planned to play.
"Up until then we were hesitant. Reeves has trained once in five or six weeks, Ryan Jackson played for an hour at Plymouth but before that he trained once in five or six weeks. We're really limited in our options. Yesterday when we were on the training ground we thought we had nine outfield players to pick from, not involving the kids. I had to ask Ben and Robbie to put a shift in for an hour."
It was fitting that Gillingham's stoppage-time leveller came via first-year pro Harvey Lintott's deflected volley as the visitors piled bodies forward at the death.
"The Wimbledon supporters were magnificent as were ours - we were 1-0 down, not playing well, and they know we're not playing well," conceded Evans.
"We're grabbing at straws, down to 10 men and putting academy kids on but isn't it great that one of their own got the goal. He's been at the academy since he was eight years old. Isn't it great that he took that on the volley.
"That's what we say to these kids, if they come up with us, we may moan, groan and shout at you but you do what comes naturally to you. If you should take that volley, then take that volley and we won't criticise if he puts it over the stand. You can see what it meant to the supporters at the end.
"(Harvey's) a great kid. For their goal we think it's a foul on Jack (Tucker) but can he go and press the cross quicker? Yes, he could. Has he come straight into a 100mph football match as a sub from watching? Yes, he is. We said that to him afterwards.
"I'm delighted for him and I think his parents were here tonight as well so they'll be driving home (happy).
"The boys came in disappointed with their performance. They celebrated with the supporters but they walked in the dressing room and led by the captain they all said that's not where they should be."
Evans was not impressed with card-happy referee Carl Brook, a late replacement official, who showed eight yellow cards, two more if you include Tutonda's pair of cautions plus he booked Evans and a member of the AFC Wimbledon coaching staff.
The home fans played their part by making a real noise, every time a challenge was made, and the Gills boss conceded it was a different game to one that might have happened last season behind closed doors.
The Gills boss added: "The referee was a change appointment yesterday. When you see a referee appointed you look at his performances, you look at the game he officiates and the cards.
"He produces a lot of cards so part of the brief to the team before the game was be really careful, this guy produces cards. I don't think he had a good game but I don't watch him every week to know if he's a good referee or not, I can't comment on that.
"I thought we were on the wrong end of a lot of 50-50 decisions that made it hard but we went to the end, we got a point. we're not happy but we'll come back in, regroup and see how many bodies we've got for Saturday."