Nelson is the hero in Gills’ revival
GILLINGHAM are a side rejuvenated in recent weeks and after their latest victory, boss Justin Edinburgh picked out goalkeeper Stuart Nelson for particular praise.
Nelson saved a Dean Bowditch first-half penalty before Cody McDonald grabbed his fifth goal of the season after the break to leave MK Dons still hunting their first-ever win at Gillingham.
The Gills have now won four of their last six but Nelson’s 200th game between the sticks came on Monday when Bolton put four past them.
And Edinburgh insisted this win was a more fitting tribute to their keeper’s landmark.
“It was a tough game against a rejuvenated MK Dons side who were unbeaten in their last three games with ‘new manager syndrome’,” said Edinburgh.
“It is a difficult time to face them, but as of late we’ve been good at home, and it was an allround performance.
“It was a game-changing save, a match-winning save. Stuart had his 200th (Gillingham) game on Monday, which wasn’t how he would have wanted to celebrate it. But he has been a mainstay behind our calmness and this revival.
“We spoke at halftime about needing to get momentum. We didn’t come out quite as we would have liked but we are a danger from set-pieces and the goal was a great header from Cody.”
A largely tepid first half saw Bradley Dack’s header cleared off the visitors’ line by Dean Lewington.
MK Dons could have stolen ahead in firsthalf injury time when Paul Konchesky brought down Kieran Agard just inside the Gillingham box, but Nelson – who had dived the other way – saved Bowditch’s penalty with his trailing foot.
Gillingham came out stronger in the second half, and earned a 64th-minute lead as a Bradley Dack cross from deep picked out the unmarked McDonald, who headed in. Dons boss Robbie Neilson suffered his first loss since taking charge but admits his side could not have many complaints.
“I was disappointed with the outcome of the game,” said Neilson. “It was a tight game with combative teams, and we did actually cause them problems, but we didn’t do it enough.
“Once you go a goal down you need to take your chances.
“It’s a disappointing result but the positives are there, and after three tough games we can hopefully carry it through.”