Published: 16:55, 23 March 2019
| Updated: 21:20, 23 March 2019
Gillingham came from a goal down to comfortably beat relegation rivals AFC Wimbledon.
Michael Folivi’s opener for AFC Wimbledon was cancelled out by a quickfire double late in the first half from Brandon Hanlan and Graham Burke.
Leo Da Silva Lopes put the Gills further infront early in the second half, Burke struck a post and Tom Eaves headed in a fourth as Steve Lovell’s men eased their relegation worries.
James Hanson got a goal back for the Dons, heading home in the eighth minute of stoppage-time, but it was too little too late for them.
The Dons went into the game as one of the inform teams in the division, winning their previous three without conceding.
Five points separated the sides with the Gills starting the weekend six places better off.
While former Dons hero Barry Fuller started for the Gills, Scott Wagstaff was named among the starters for Wimbledon.
The Gills came under plenty of pressure early on, with former Gills player Joe Pigott causing problems.
Pigott had an unremarkable spell with the Gills earlier in his career, but came into the weekend game having hit the winning goal in each of his team’s last two matches. He provided a couple of chances that strike partner Michael Folivi was unable to put away.
When Pigott took on a shot himself, he found the woodwork, turning on the edge of the box and striking the post.
The Dons got a deserved opening goal with 22 minutes gone and it was Wagstaff who was the provider as Folivi made it third time lucky, placing his shot past Tomas Holy after former Gills midfielder Wagstaff had done all the hard work and picked him out with time and space to finish.
Hanlan forced home keeper Aaron Ramsdale into a good save after Leo Da Silva Lopes had timed the pass well and it was that combination that produced the equaliser.
With five minutes of the half remaining Lopes again found Hanlan and this time the Gills striker found the net, squeezing it home past Ramsdale.
Two minutes later and the Gills were ahead. Burke tried his luck with a speculative 30-yard effort and the home keeper fumbled the shot, turning it into his own net. Ramsdale desperately tried to atone for his error but the assistant signalled to the referee that the ball had crossed the line despite the keeper clawing it back out.
A frantic end to the half saw Holy - who was making his 100th Gills appearance - make a super double save to deny Pigott from equalising. Wagstaff then forced him into a more routine save before the half-time whistle was blown.
The Gills made a good start to the second half, with Connor Ogilvie having an effort from a corner ruled out for offside and a link-up between Tom Eaves and Burke almost paying off.
Gillingham got their third five minutes after the restart when the ball dropped invitingly for Lopes and he struck a half volley into the bottom corner, beyond the keeper.
Lopes created a chance for Burke to double his Gills account, chesting a ball over the top into his path, but the forward was falling backwards as he shot and the chance went wide. Burke went closer with another shot from distance, hitting the post.
The game was delayed for several minutes midway through the second half as a piece of turf came up, covering a sprinkler, but it was quickly dealt with by the groundstaff. Wimbledon had moments early made a triple change but they struggled to make a difference.
Gillingham put the game beyond doubt when Eaves rose highest to nod home Luke O’Neill’s free-kick with seven minutes remaining, notching his 20th goal of the season.
Even Ogilvie fancied his chances of getting in on the scoring, with a surging run into the box, but Terrell Thomas got the better of him.
Hanson's late goal for Wimbledon wasn't enough to deny the Gills a win.
Wimbledon: Ramsdale, Thomas, Wagstaff (Hanson 60mins), Hartigan (Connolly 60mins), Seddon, Sibbick, McDonald, Kalambayi, Pigott, Wordsworth, Folivi (McLoughlin 60mins). Subs not used: McDonnell, Watson, Pinnock, Barcham.
Gillingham: Holy, O’Neill, Fuller, Ehmer, Ogilvie, Reilly, Byrne, Lopes (Parrett 90mins), Burke (Charles-Cook 87mins), Hanlan (List 90mins), Eaves. Subs not used: Hadler, Lacey, Campbell, Rees.
Attendance: 4,847 (765 away)
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More by this authorLuke Cawdell