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Midfielder Shaun Williams overcomes injury to play key role in Gillingham win over Wimbledon as Tom Nichols and Timothee Dieng go off injured and Robbie McKenzie misses out

Shaun Williams played a key role for both of Gillingham’s goals in the win on Saturday but very nearly didn’t play.

Williams came off the bench to replace injured Timothee Dieng to take over the position in the front of the defence - but it was at the top end of the pitch where the experienced midfielder made his mark.

Shaun Williams' header is saved before Max Ehmer scores for Gillingham Picture : Keith Gillard
Shaun Williams' header is saved before Max Ehmer scores for Gillingham Picture : Keith Gillard

Williams hadn’t trained all week after picking up a knock last week at Rochdale and was limited to just 25 minutes on the grass on Friday. But despite that, when Dieng went off with a head injury, he was the man that manager Neil Harris chose from his bench.

It was a header from Williams that led to the equaliser. His super effort was pushed onto the post by an equally impressive save by the Wimbledon keeper who was unfortunate to see it bounce back across goal for Max Ehmer to tap in.

The winner then came from Williams’ cross from out wide, headed clear by a defender but then volleyed in from the edge of the box by Cheye Alexander.

Harris said: “Willo didn’t play because he didn’t train all week, he did a little on Friday and wasn’t ready to play, he had sore ribs from contact last week against Rochdale so he was only declared fit on Saturday morning, to get him 60 minutes was excellent. Both lads came on and were exceptional, Aiden in particular.”

Aiden O’Brien came on for Tom Nichols, who limped off with what looked like a bang to his ankle.

Harris said: “I am taking off Timmy Dieng and Tom Nichols, two really good players and bringing on Shaun Williams and Aiden O’Brien, what a position to be in!”

It was too soon after the game for Harris to make a judgement on Dieng and Nichols but admits both are doubt for Tuesday night’s home match against Bradford City.

Robbie McKenzie missed out because of a groin strain picked up late on Friday.

“That was a real unfortunate one,” said the manager.

Williams will also now need to be assessed after a longer stint than expected on Saturday.

Harris said: “I didn’t think we would get an hour out of him so we will have to manage him through the next week. Robbie comes into the same as the other two (Dieng and Nichols). Players that miss Saturday are unlikely to play Tuesday.

“I have got a squad haven’t I? I had no Robbie McKenzie but I was able to put Hakeeb Adelakun in (onto the bench) who is desperate to get his chance again but is having to be patient because he hasn’t warranted the shirt if I am honest, so far, but he comes into the group.

“If I miss players on Tuesday then I will have a couple of players I can put into the group.”

Captain Stuart O’Keefe, fellow midfielder Ethan Coleman and forward Jayden Clarke are all options for the manager if he needs to add to his group for the midweek visit of Bradford.

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