It was a case of good news, bad news for Gillingham as they battled hard to earn a point at Wimbledon only to finish the night as the 24th and last team in League One.
The Gills fell behind, then went a man down, but showed spirit and resolve to come back and earn a point at fellow strugglers AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow on Tuesday night.
But the unfortunate reality of Gillingham’s situation in the league came after the final whistle when it was revealed that the club had slipped to 24th and last in the League One table.
Wimbledon took the lead after 35 minutes when former Gills winger Andy Barcham’s cross drifted all the way into the net.
And things went from bad to worse when Gills skipper Lee Martin was sent off three minutes into first-half stoppage time.
But remarkably Gillingham bounced back immediately, with loanee signing Sean Clare marking the occasion of his first start for the club with a debut goal, striking home from the edge of the area to draw the Gills level.
— Gillingham FC (@TheGillsFC) September 12, 2017
It meant Gillingham went into the half-time break with something to hang on to and, thanks to a gutsy showing and a little luck, that’s exactly what they did.
Wimbledon missed a glorious second-half chance, rattled the crossbar and saw a penalty appeal waved away as they knocked on the door throughout the half.
But while Gillingham’s defence creaked, it held firmly enough to see out the game and give the team only their third point of the season.
— S.CLARE (@sean8clare) September 12, 2017
However, a dramatic finish to two other games in the division meant Gillingham were relegated to 24th and last in League One as the only winless team in the division.
Oldham Athletic saw a two-goal lead slip in the final 10 minutes at Bristol Rovers, only to then go on and score an 88th-minute winner. And Rochdale produced a dramatic late turnaround at home to Doncaster as two stoppage-time goals saw them turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win.
Attention now turns to Priestfield once again as local-ish rivals Charlton (who’ll be stung from a 3-0 reverse at home to Wigan) come to Kent fired up for Saturday’s league clash.
Will Saturday see Gillingham claim their first league win of the season at the eighth time of asking? Fingers crossed…
Gills team vs Wimbledon
Holy, O’Neill, Ogilvie, Zakuani, Lacey, Byrne, Wagstaff, Clare, Martin, Eaves, Wilkinson (Parker 66)
Unused subs: Arnold, Ehmer, Nugent, Hessenthaler, Oldaker, Cundle