Error-strewn Dons slump to another defeat at Gillingham

League Two: Gillingham 2-1 MK Dons
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Things went from bad to worse for MK Dons on Saturday as individual errors and a lacklustre performance saw them beaten 2-1 by Gillingham at Priestfield on Saturday.

Despite a promisng start to the game, substitute Macaulay Bonne came on to replace injured Ashley Nadesan after 18 minutes and sparked a Gillingham revival, opening the scoring eight minutes later.

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Dons looked at sixes and sevens thereafter, and when Jonathan Leko gifted the ball to Tom Nichols ten minutes into the second-half, Scott Malone was able to roll in Gills’ second to assert their control.

While Dons threatened to get back into it late on with Ellis Harrison’s first goal for the club eight minutes from time, Daniel Harvie’s red card in stoppage time for a second booking ensured a miserable afternoon for Graham Alexander’s side.

Now seven without a win, Dons sit 16th in League Two.

After the midweek goal-less draw with Walsall, Graham Alexander made a change up front as he introduced Matt Dennis for his first league start of the season for Dons in place of Ellis Harrison, who dropped to the bench.

Both sides started the season brightly but had stumbled their way through September, with the Gills parting ways with boss Neil Harris on Thursday in the run up to the game. And that uncertainty behind the scenes appeared to play into Dons' hands in the opening 20 minutes as they control the tempo.

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Mo Eisa, Matt Dennis and Joe Tomlinson all had half-sights of goal, while Alex Gilbey too had an effort blocked at source as keeper Jake Turner remained untested.

With the home side barely in it, it would be an injury to striker Ashley Nadesan which would swing the tide. Replaced by Macaulay Bonne, the Gills frontman would immediately cause chaos , disrupting the visitors and ultimately netting the equaliser eight minutes later.

Gillingham piled on the pressure with Bonne's introduction, coming close with five shots on Craig MacGillivray's goal - the keeper making two important blocks to keep the hosts out as Dons all the control they had build up in the early stages.

The goal came through a disappointing lapse in concentration though - a ball over the top was left by Anthony Stewart and Daniel Harvie, allowing Bonne to break clear, sliding the ball under MacGillivray to put Gillingham in the lead.

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It could have been worse for Dons had Ethan Coleman's strike flown in three minutes later, narrowly missing the upright.

Graham Alexander's side looked at sixes and sevens when put under pressure, but settled down in the run-up to half-time. Stewart was adjudged offside when he nodded into the back of the net after Turner palmed an Eisa up into the air, while the striker drew a brilliant stop from the Gills keeper in stoppage time from the edge of the box.

The head coach rolled the dice at the interval, introducing Ellis Harrison and Jonathan Leko to the field to chase a way back into the game, but one of those changes would be the cause of Gillingham's second goal ten minutes after the restart.

Leko, dwelling on the ball in the centre-circle, allowed his pocket to be picked by Tom Nichols, sparking a three-on-one break with keeper MacGillivray. Nichols selflessly drew out the Dons stopper before rolling in Scott Malone to double their advantage.

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A third threatened when Bonne headed over from close range, and then Connor Mahoney opted to go it alone with man in support, bringing out a big save from MacGillivray.

Matt Dennis limped out to see Max Dean introduced, and he forced a good stop from Turner before Harrison nodded in his first goal for the club with eight minutes to go to threaten an unlikely turnaround.

Dean fired into the side netting minutes later as Dons desperately tried to get back on level terms, but a stoppage time red card for Daniel Harvie, who picked up his second booking for pulling down substitute Robbie McKenzie, did Dons no favours as they suffered a fifth defeat of the season, slipping to 16th in League Two.

Referee: Darren Drysdale

Attenance: 6,119 (323)

Gillingham: Turner, Alexander, Masterson, Nichols (Ehmer 75), Nadesan (Bonne 17), Jeffries, Malone, Clarke (Clark 75), Coleman, Ogie, Mahoney (McKenzie 87)

Subs not used: Morris, Macarthur, Sithole

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MK Dons: MacGillivray, O'Hora, Stewart, Harvie, Tomlinson (Harrison 46), Norman, Gilbey, Williams, Payne (Leko 46), Eisa, Dennis (Dean 64)

Subs not used: Kelly, Tucker, Smith, Devoy

Booked: Malone, Williams, Harvie, Dean, Stewart

Sent off: Harvie

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