Gillingham 2-1 AFC Wimbledon
Gillingham 2-1 AFC Wimbledon

Dominic Samuel’s 58th minute shot finally broke two Gillingham hoodoos – one of which had stood since 1982 – a win over a Wimbledon side at Priestfield!

Incredibly not since the day that Tony Cascarino scored his first goal in a blue shirt in February 1982 have any Gills side beaten either the “original” Wimbledon or the “new” AFC Wimbledon side – an amazing run of eleven games.

The three points also secured The Gills’ first home midweek League win for five years since Justin Edinburgh’s side beat Rochdale 2-0 on this very day in 2015 – a game that incidentally both Samuel and Ryan Jackson started for the Gills!

Samuel’s first league goal since September sealed a first home League win for Steve Evans’ side since the end of October after skipper Kyle Dempsey had put the Gills in front early on only for the visitors to level before the break through Ben Heneghan.

The Gills boss made just the one change from Saturday’s draw with Charlton as Alex MacDonald returned from suspension in place of Scott Robertson as the home side made almost the ideal start – Dempsey was found by Jordan Graham in just the third minute and the skipper did the rest; drilling into the top corner of the AFC net giving keeper Connal Trueman no chance.

It could have even been better for Gillingham as Alex MacDonald had a first minute shot blocked before both Vadaine Oliver and Connor Ogilvie had headers that didn’t hit the target and that was all in the opening twelve minutes!

It took the visitors twenty minutes to muster a strike of any note as former Maidstone striker Joe Pigott had a shot blocked. It seemed to spark AFC into life and just before the half hour they levelled – former Gill Callum Reilly was the provider for Heneghan to head home. The Gills responded and before half time both Oliver and Robbie McKenzie had shots fly wide of the Wimbledon goal.

The second half began with Samuel heading wide and Jack Bonham saving Ryan Longman’s header at the other end. McKenzie was then denied again, Samuel had a shot saved before finally getting his name on the scoresheet – with what proved to be the winner – on fifty-seven minutes. Ogilvie did well with the cross and the Gills number nine drilled the ball home.

Dempsey then crashed a free kick against the frame of the goal as the home side looked to seal the points but Bonham made a stunning save from sub Jack Rudoni to give the Gills the reminder that the points weren’t settled yet!

Chances came and went at both ends and as the final minutes ticked by Will Nightingale’s header for Wimbledon went agonisingly close before Bonham made another save – from Longman’s header – to get the Gills over the line in a League game at home base for the first time in 1828 agonising days!

The win sends Gillingham up to 13th place in League One, just six points now outside the play-off places.

The Gills now head back onto the Road to Wembley on Saturday as fancied League Two Exeter City come to Priestfield with a place in the Third Round at stake…

GILLINGHAM – Bonham, Jackson, Tucker, Medley, Ogilvie, McKenzie, Dempsey, Graham, MacDonald (Coyle 66), Samuel (Woods 73), Oliver (Akinde 86).

Subs not used – Walsh, Drysdale, Maghoma, Willock.

Goals: Dempsey (3), Samuel (57).

AFC WIMBLEDON – Trueman, Csoka (Thomas 45), Heneghan (Nightingale 77), Kalambayi, McLoughlin, Seddon, Woodyard (Rudoni 61), Reilly (Chislett 77), Hartigan, Pigott (Palmer 61), Longman.

Subs not used – Tzanev, Alexander.

Goal: Heneghan (28).

REFEREE – Mr Huxtable