Gillingham 1-4 Milton Keynes Dons
Gillingham 1-4 Milton Keynes Dons

In the sweltering September sunshine, it was Gillingham who couldn’t stand the heat as they succumbed to a Priestfield pounding at the hands of MK Dons.

The home side started brightly, and skipper Kyle Dempsey squeezed through before being denied by keeper Andrew Fisher’s legs before they went in front courtesy of Vadaine Oliver’s third of the season – the big striker rising at the far post to coolly head home Alex MacDonald’s pinpoint cross after MacDonald himself had had a shot blocked by the defence. 

The game was then turned on its head when Stuart O’Keefe clashed twice with Scott Twine in the space of a few minutes resulting in two cautions for the Gills midfielder – the first one earning boss Steve Evans a “talking to” from fussy official Busby – and it was from the second one – a debatable challenge that was awarded initially by an assistant running away from the play – Twine almost squandered the chance to level the scores as Jamie Cumming pulled off a brilliant penalty block.

Sadly, for the prone Gills stopper, the ball went straight back to the Dons man who hammered the ball into the net and then rather stupidly “celebrated” in front of the Rainham End who were still venting their frustration at the award of the penalty – not that it seemed to matter to the official who had cautioned O’Keefe for throwing the ball away!

Before the ten men could effectively regroup, they were behind – Peter Kioso was given too much room down the right and from the tightest of angles fired into the net before he too celebrated wildly in front of the Gills fans despite being told on at least one occasion to come away by Mr Busby – orders that were ignored but not punished as the consistency in the officials’ performance disappeared.

In one instance, Twine went down under a crunching challenge from Max Ehmer screaming and rolling about but when the maligned Mr Busby waved play on, the Dons player miraculously recovered!

The second period was a strange affair as despite having the lead and a man’s advantage, the visitors tried every trick in the book to delay the game and waste time. Yes there were gaps that the Gills left as they tried desperately to get back into the game – Troy Parrot crashed a shot into the side netting of Cumming’s goal – but at the other end, Gillingham did have the opportunities to get back in the game especially after the introduction of young sub Gerald Sithole who gave the hard working Oliver fresh impetus, and it was from an Oliver flick that the young sub raced into the box only to be denied by a coming together with keeper and defender that looked no different to the clash in the first half that saw O’Keefe dismissed. This time, Mr Busby wasn’t moved.

The Gills got even closer to levelling shortly after as Oliver stretched just far enough to connect with a dreadful back pass only for the Gills to be denied by the legs of the keeper again.

The home side’s afternoon was summed up with the two other Dons’ goals – the third, which will be claimed by Parrott – took a horrible deflection off Ehmer and flew into the roof of the net, whilst the fourth which was a tap in from sub – Max Watters was really tough on Cumming, as the Gills keeper produced a terrific save to deny Twine.

For the Priestfield faithful – many of whom had left before the final whistle – yes, this was a disappointing afternoon, but it will all be forgotten if Evans can rally the troops for Tuesday’s visit of local rivals Charlton Athletic.

They will go into the game sitting 20th in League One, just one place above the relegation zone.

GILLINGHAM – Cumming, Tutonda (Bennett H/T), O’Keefe, Ehmer, Tucker, MacDonald, Dempsey, Kelman (Reeves 38), McKenzie, Adshead (Sithole 54), Oliver.

Subs not used: Chapman, Lee, Lloyd.

Goal: Oliver (20).

Booked: O’Keefe (22), Tucker (68).

Sent Off: O’Keefe (26)

MK DONS – Fisher, Lewington, O’Hora, Darling, O’Riley, Twine, Robson (McEachran 85), Boateng (Watters 60), Parrot, Harvie, Kioso (Watson 76).

Subs not used: Ravizzoli, Jules, Brown, Martin.

Goals: Twine (28), Kioso (39), Ehmer (og 82), Watters (88).

Booked: Robson (24), Kioso (65).

Referee: Mr John Busby

Attendance: 4119

Picture supplied by Gillingham Football Club.