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Report: Gillingham 1-0 MK Dons

17 December 2016

MK Dons were unable to make it three wins in a week as they fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat at Gillingham.

In an evenly-contested affair, the men from MK1 were given an opportunity to go in at the break ahead but Dean Bowditch saw his penalty saved.

Then, with just over 15 minutes remaining, Cody McDonald directed a header into the far corner to earn the hosts the three points.

Robbie Neilson reverted back to the starting XI that beat AFC Wimbledon 1-0 at Stadium MK last weekend, meaning David Martin, Samir Carruthers, Ben Reeves and Kieran Agard returned.

Buoyed by successive victories, the Dons began on the front-foot and only an offside flag denied Kieran Agard from latching on to Dean Bowditch’s through-ball.

Reeves then saw a shot blocked before the lively Carruthers sent a volley narrowly wide from 25 yards after a superb chest down, as the men from MK1 dominated the opening exchanges.

The hosts hit back and it needed a last-ditch clearance from Dean Lewington to deny Bradley Dack finding the net with a looped header at the back post.

With almost 15 minutes on the clock, a nice interchange between Bowditch and Agard set up the latter, who saw his shot saved by Stuart Nelson.

At the other end, Paul Downing put his body on the line to block Dack’s low drive after Cody McDonald had broken free down the right and pulled back.

Carruthers came extremely close to giving the Dons the lead on 25 minutes when he whipped a free-kick narrowly past the top right-hand corner from a tight angle.

A clever pass from Reeves set Bowditch free but, after making 15 yards, the in-form frontman fired over Nelson’s bar from the edge of the box.

Bowditch was handed the opportunity to give the Dons the lead in the final minute of the first half but his penalty was saved by the legs of Nelson after Agard had been tripped in the box.

Dons’ No.9 tried to turn provider at the start of the second half for Ed Upson, whose header was blocked before the hosts managed to scramble away the danger.

Shortly afterwards, some nice build-up play created a chance for Reeves but his effort deflected on to the roof of the net.

The Dons were dealt a blow when George Baldock had to be replaced with what looked like a hamstring injury 53 minutes in – Jack Hendry came on.

Neilson’s men had controlled the first 20 minutes of the second period but the hosts threatened when Baily Cargill forced David Martin into a smart save, albeit a comfortable one from Dack’s corner.

Minutes later, Martin was again involved, this time getting down to his right to gather Frank Nouble’s deflected drive.

At the other end, Agard almost capitalised on a poor back pass by Scott Wagstaff but Nelson was alert to clear the ball as the striker charged down on him.

That was followed by a mazy run by Reeves but, after getting himself into a good position, he couldn’t pick out a team-mate.

Then, out of nothing, Gillingham took the lead when Cody McDonald headed home Dack’s corner from 10 yards out, leaving Martin no chance in the Dons goal.

Looking for a leveller, Lewington played the ball over the top but Agard couldn’t quite bring it down 15 yards from goal.

Ryan Colclough was introduced with 10 minutes to go and he was immediately involved as he set up Carruthers but he fired over the top from a difficult position.

The Dons will be aiming to bounce back on Boxing Day when they host Charlton Athletic at Stadium MK.

Starting XI: Martin; Baldock (Hendry 53), Downing, Lewington (c);  GB Williams; Potter, Upson; Carruthers, Reeves, Agard (Colclough 80); Bowditch (Maynard 64).

Unused subs: Nicholls, GC Williams, Powell, Aneke.

Bookings: Carruthers, Potter, Lewington.

Attendance: 5,682 (350 Dons fans).

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