Published: 21:47, 17 August 2021
| Updated: 00:33, 18 August 2021
Gillingham snatched a point at AFC Wimbledon with a late deflected equaliser in League 1 on Tuesday night.
The 10-man visitors defended stoutly for most of the evening but it looked like substitute Ollie Palmer had given the Dons all three points.
But Harvey Lintott's shot was deflected in off Paul Kalambayi during the sixth minute of stoppage time as Gills snatched a point.
The visitors had left-back David Tutonda sent off with 18 minutes left for his second booking and were hanging on until Palmer scored but then hit back to rescue an unlikely point.
It's not been an easy start to the season for boss Steve Evans and he was forced into more changes after three players were ruled out through injury.
Ryan Jackson, John Akinde and Daniel Phillips all featured at Plymouth but were ruled out while Mustapha Carayol dropped to the bench.
It meant opportunities in the starting line-up for Olly Lee, Danny Lloyd and Ben Reeves, along with a first start of the campaign at right-back for Robbie McKenzie - the third different player to feature in that position in the first three league games.
McKenzie's name was in referee Carl Brook's notepad inside 11 minutes as he tripped Ayoub Assal. It was part of a bright start from the hosts as the Gills struggled to get to grips with the Dons' system - both Evans and assistant Paul Raynor spent time trying to get their men into the right places from the sidelines.
Wimbledon had a good chance in the seventh minute, a rash Stuart O'Keefe challenge presenting a free-kick on the edge of the area. Henry Lawrence's free-kick hit the wall but from the rebound he could only find keeper Jamie Cumming.
For all their possession, Wimbledon did not cut the Gills apart. Jack Tucker, in particular, was excellent at the back.
Dapo Mebude turned and shot just wide before on-loan Brentford striker Aaron Pressley failed to make a decent connection with Lawrence's header down.
As an attacking force, apart from an early-long range Vadaine Oliver shot, Gills were virtually non-existent until just before the break.
Skipper Kyle Dempsey fed in Lee, whose low shot was beaten away by keeper Nik Tzanev. Then a dangerous free-kick into the area was only cleared as far as Reeves, whose first-time left-foot volley was kept out by the keeper again.
While Gills briefly started the second half well, the Dons quickly turned up the heat but Tucker and Max Ehmer stood firm under a barrage of attacks from the home side.
Evans replaced Lloyd and McKenzie with Carayol and Lintott just after the hour mark.
AFC Wimbledon boss Mark Robinson responded with a triple change, Tucker quickly collecting a yellow card after tripping one of the newcomers, Ollie Palmer.
An excellent piece of defending by Tucker appeared to have thwarted the hosts with 18 minutes left but on-loan Chelsea wing-back Lawrence appeared from nowhere to race through and when he was upended by Tutonda, referee Brook had no option but to show a second yellow card.
The resulting free-kick was sent well over by substitute Luke McCormick and Gills quickly replaced Reeves with Rhys Bennett, who slotted in at left-back.
Palmer headed downwards at Cumming, who also denied substitute Ethan Chislett as Gills wasted as much time as they could get away with.
But their resistance was finally broken with four minutes left when McCormick delivered from the left on his right foot and Palmer headed down with sufficient accuracy and power to beat Cumming.
Boss Evans collected his customary yellow card for dissent and O'Keefe joined him in the book in stoppage time for also talking out of term.
AFC Wimbledon: Tzanev, Lawrence, Csoka, Woodyard, Nightingale, Marsh, Assal, Mebude (Chislett 65mins), Pressley (Palmer 65mins), Kalambayi, Osew (McCormick 65mins). Subs not used: Oualah, Alexander, Hartigan, Heneghan.
Gillingham: Cumming, McKenzie (Lintott 62mins), Ehmer, Tucker, Tutonda, O'Keefe, Dempsey, Lee, Reeves (Bennett 75mins), Lloyd (Carayol 62mins), Oliver. Subs not used: Chapman, Maghoma, Akehurst, Sithole.
Referee: Carl Brook.