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Gillingham 2 AFC Wimbledon 1: Kyle Dempsey and Dominic Samuel on target for Gills

Dominic Samuel struck to claim a long-awaited Tuesday night league win for Gillingham at Priestfield.

Home captain Kyle Dempsey fired the Gills infront but Ben Heneghan levelled before the break. Samuel restored the lead in the second half for Gillingham and his 57th minute strike clinched the points.

Gillingham players celebrate their opening goal against AFC Wimbledon Picture: Barry Goodwin
Gillingham players celebrate their opening goal against AFC Wimbledon Picture: Barry Goodwin

The Gills hadn’t beaten AFC Wimbledon on home soil before and had gone exactly five years without a home league win on a Tuesday night, a run of 16 games.

An early goal and a bright start gave them some hope against the Dons.

Alex MacDonald returned from his league suspension to replace Scott Robertson in midfield, the only change for the Gills, and he was involved in the build-up for the third minute opener, scored by Dempsey after Jordan Graham’s delicate pass inside played him in.

The Gills might have extended their lead but neither Vadaine Oliver or Connor Ogilvie could find the target with headed chances.

Wimbledon turned up to Priestfield without Luke O’Neill, who revealed pre-match that he was injured, but fellow former Gills player Callum Reilly did start, the man who scored the stoppage time winner when the sides last met.

Joe Pigott - celebrating his 27th birthday on Tuesday - and Anthony Hartigan had shots blocked before the Wimbledon equaliser on 28 minutes.

Reilly’s cross found Heneghan and his glancing header beat Jack Bonham in the Gills goal.

Oliver fired a good chance over soon after the Wimbledon goal but Gillingham struggled to recapture that early vigour.

A free-kick from Pigott late in the half hit the wall and although the former Maidstone striker wanted a penalty for handball he had to make do with a corner. Reilly’s flag-kick almost dropped kindly for Daniel Csoka, but Bonham gathered and the Gills broke. Dempsey looked to square for Graham on the counter, who would have had a tap in, but picked out a Wimbledon defender instead.

Ryan Longman was denied by Bonham early in the second half, tipping his header over the bar.

Gillingham got their noses back infront just before the hour mark when Samuel finished well on the volley, for his fifth of the season, from a super ball in from Ogilvie.

Dempsey almost got his second of the night but his free-kick crashed off the upright.

Wimbledon made a double sub and both of those were denied by a super double save from Bonham, firstly blocking a Jack Rudoni shot and then a follow up on the angle from Ollie Palmer.

Samuel was denied by the feet of visiting keeper Connal Trueman before being replaced.

Will Nightingale should have levelled again for the Dons from Hartigan’s free-kick with three minutes left but headed wide from close range.

Gillingham: Bonham, Jackson, Ogilvie, Tucker, Medley, McKenzie, Dempsey, MacDonald (Coyle 66mins), Graham, Oliver (Akinde 86mins), Samuel (Woods 73mins). Subs not used: Walsh, Maghoma, Drysdale, Willock.

AFC Wimbledon: Trueman, Csoka (Thomas 46mins), Woodyard (Rudoni 61mis), Hartigan, McLoughlin, Heneghan (Nightingale 77mins), Longman, Kalambayi, Reilly (Chislett 77mins), Pigott (Palmer 61mins), Seddon. Subs not used: Tzanev, Alexander.

Referee: Brett Huxtable

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