Report: MK Dons 4-2 Gillingham
Headers from new signings Will Grigg and Kyle McFadzean as well as own goals from Kortney Hause and Aaron Morris saw the men from MK1 come from 2-0 down to record an exciting victory.
Karl Robinson handed debuts to McFadzean, Danny Green and Grigg, while Lee Hodson, Darren Potter and Dean Bowditch returned to the starting XI after injuries cut short their 2013/14 campaigns.
After an even start, the visitors went ahead on seven minutes when Cody McDonald, who appeared to foul McFadzean in the build up, fired low past David Martin from 15 yards.
The Dons responded with a Dele Alli header which was deflected behind for a corner following good work by Bowditch and captain Dean Lewington.
More neat interchange between Bowditch and Lewington then set-up Green, who pulled his 25-yard shot just past the left-hand post.
A perfectly-waited pass from Hodson set Alli way shortly afterwards, but the youngster lifted his effort over the top of Stuart Nelson’s crossbar as the men from MK1 began to take control of proceedings.
But on 29 minutes, completely against the run of play, Gillingham went 2-0 up. McDonald wriggled away from Antony Kay and was brought down in the area by Martin, who was shown a yellow card. McDonald’s strike partner Danny Kedwell stepped up and sent the Dons’ keeper the wrong way from the resulting spot-kick.
Green almost reduced the deficit seven minutes later but his powerful downward header from Grigg’s dangerous cross was superbly saved by Nelson, before Kay flashed an effort wide of the right-hand post.
The score was 2-1 on 41 minutes when Nelson flapped at Green’s corner and the ball went in off Kortney Hause’s head at the back post.
And the Dons were almost level a minute later when Grigg’s header landed on the roof of the net as Karl Robinson’s men ended the half very strongly.
The men from MK1 began the second half like they ended the first – on the frontfoot – and Green went within inches of finding an equaliser when he curled a 25-yard free-kick just over the top.
A serious-looking injury to McDonald halted the Dons’ progress, with Antonio German replacing the 28-year-old after a five-minute stoppage.
Intricate passing between Bowditch and Reeves presented Alli with a golden opportunity just past the hour mark, but substitute keeper Glenn Morris was quickly off his line to deny
the 18-year-old inside the area.
The pressure finally told on 68 minutes when Grigg headed home Green’s pinpoint cross to open his account for the Dons in style.
It got even better for the Robinson’s men two minutes later with McFadzean perfectly placing a header into the top left-hand corner from Reeves’ dangerous delivery to make it 3-2.
An own goal from Aaron Morris, which came as a result of a stunning Green corner, completed an extraordinary nine minutes for the home side and opened up a two-goal advantage on their opponents, a margin they had once trailed by in the first half.
Although a fifth goal didn’t materialise despite substitutes Tom Hitchcock and Benik Afobe threatening the Gills’ backline, it was still a very pleasing afternoon in front of the Dons faithful.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Hodson, McFadzean,Kay,Lewington (c); Potter, Alli; Green, Reeves (Hitchcock 85), Bowditch (Powell 82); Grigg (Afobe 76).
Unused subs: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Baldock, Randall.
Goals: Hause o.g. (41), Grigg (68), McFadzean (70), Morris o.g. (73).
Gillingham (4-4-2): Nelson (Morris 46); Egan, Legge, Hause, Martin; McGlashan, Hessenthaler (Dickenson 77), Morris, Loft; Kedwell, McDonald (German 53).
Unused subs: Norris, Davies, Hare, Dack.