AFC Wimbledon 1-0 Gillingham: A late Rudoni wonder strike snatches it at the death
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

The Dons had dropped into the dreaded relegation zone following their 3-0 loss away to Peterborough United on Saturday, and new Head Coach, Mark Robinson, called for an exciting style of play for the supporters ahead of their crucial match against Gillingham on Tuesday evening.  

The Dons started the match full of confidence, with George Dobson and Jack Rudoni orchestrating the tune of AFC Wimbledon’s attacking onslaught.

The first chance of the match fell to Joe Pigott. 

However, Pigott, who has been inspired in front of goal this season, failed to connect with Ryan Longman’s cross and volleyed his effort over the bar.  

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Wimbledon were presented with a glorious opportunity to open the scoring on the half-an-hour mark, but Ryan Longman and Joe Pigott's communication let them down.  

Longman, who had won the ball on the edge of the box, barged his way past Robbie Cundy and was left one-on-one with goalkeeper, Jack Bonham.  

With Longman bearing down on goal, he chose to switch the ball back to the waiting Pigott, but completely mistimed his pass and allowed Jack Tucker to intercept and clear away the danger.  

Wimbledon then had another chance to open scoring moments later.  

Jack Rudoni danced his way down the left-hand side and flashed a cross into the area. The ball fell to Ethan Chislett, who was just five yards out from goal, but the winger fluffed his shot, sending the ball over the bar and into the south London night sky. 

After a half time hairdresser from Steve Evans, his Gills’ side came out firing in the second half. Evans rolled the dice and substitute, Jordan Graham, nearly made an immediate impact.  

Graham robbed Chislett on the edge of the box, took one touch to set himself up, before hammering a shot towards that was awkwardly parried away by goalkeeper, Sam Walker.  

The onslaught continued, with Evans pushing his side forward from the touchline, bellowing orders every time The Gills bombarded forward.  

However, The Dons’ defence, which capitulated against Peterborough on Saturday, stood firm and survived the early push; throwing bodies on the line to keep the scoreline intact.   

The Gills’ pressure continued to pile on, but the Wimbledon wall of defence stayed strong, rebuking any attack that came their way.  

On the 72nd minute, pinball in the Wimbledon area nearly led to the visitors opening in the scoring.

A cross from Graham on the left-hand side, whipped across the face of goal and fell to the feet of Vadaine Oliver.

However, with a melee of defenders surrounding him, Oliver could only poke his effort agonisingly inches wide of the goal. 

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On the 89th minute, with the clock running down, the Wimbledon faithful watching from home, would have been salivating at the goal from Jack Rudoni.  

With the Gills’ defence caught ball watching, Rudoni picked the ball up on the edge of the area, shimmied past one, then two, before unleashing a cannoned effort from 25-yards out into the top left-hand corner and handing Mark Robinson his first win as full-time boss of AFC Wimbledon in the process. 

Takeaways

Dons could have been left to rue missed chances  

Despite a second half spent much on the back foot, Mark Robinson must be left wondering ‘what if’ Joe Pigott and Ryan Longman had found their shooting boots in the first half.  

Pigott, who has 13 goals to his name this season, missed a flurry of first half chances to put the home side ahead.  

As for his partner in crime, Longman, the Brighton & Hove Albion loanee, had the best chance of the first half, when he was left one-on-one with Jack Bonham, but doubting his abilities from five yards out, Longman looked to pick out Pigott and his wayward pass ended any attack.  

However, as for Rudoni, the maestro in the middle is a star in the making.

Rudoni pulled the strings all game and he is the lynchpin of Robinson’s side going forward. His strike was worthy of the fairytale story ongoing at Plough Lane.  

The three points moves the Dons out of the relegation zone and above Bristol Rovers into 20th place. 

Gills pressure too little, too late 

After a less than satisfying first half, Steve Evans called on his substitutes to change the game.  

Whilst Stuart O’Keefe harried and hustled from the middle, and Jordan Graham looked menacing up front, the abundance of pressure from the second half left much to be desired.  

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John Akinde and Vadaine Oliver looked lifeless up front, and although The Gills had the lion’s share of chances, nothing clear cut materialized.  

Gillingham stay 15th and well clear of any danger.  

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