Wimbledon bowed out of the FA Youth Cup at the first round stage, after two late goals ended their hopes for this season.
The young Dons took an early lead through Paul Osew, but they failed to kill off Gillingham. The visitors turned the tie around in the second half, with two goals from Charles Noyelle and a third from Roman Campbell, to win 3-1 under the lights at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Gillingham settled quickly and put pressure on Bert White's goal inside the first five minutes. Wimbledon responded well though as Reuben Collins provided an accurate through ball from the back for Jack Currie to chase down. Two minutes later the hosts went in front. Tyler Burey went on a surging run and as the Gillingham defence struggled to deal with his pace, Osew followed up to net from close range as the visitors failed to clear.
The goal somewhat settled nerves and gave the young Dons confidence to push on by mounting further attacks. Burey continued to drive down the wing forcing Gillingham to halt his progress, but only momentarily. Collins was commanding at the back, while Currie added to the attacks by going on runs down the flank.
By the midway point of the half though right-back Miquel Scarlett was proving to be a real threat for Gillingham, as he effectively carved his way through the young Dons at times. Currie put a powerful, long throw into the box, which the lively Ayoub Assal tried to create a chance out of on the half hour mark.
Emmanuel Fernández was booked for stopping another surging run by Burey after 38 minutes. Lodge-Francis went up for Finlay Macnab's free-kick, but Gillingham's Roman Campbell required treatment after a knock to the head. At the end of an entertaining first half Wimbledon had the lead, but it still looked like they required a second goal to put the match beyond Gillingham's grasp, giving the visitiors hope ahead of the second period.
After a fairly even opening five minutes, Huseyin Biler showed his attacking prowess down the wing and Ben Allen became the second Gills player to go into the book for a challenge on the Dons defender. Ten minutes into the second half, Burey broke away on a marauding counter attack. Deciding to go on his own though ultimately proved costly, as the winger was blocked at close range by Gills keeper Joe Walsh.
On the hour Coach Mark Robinson made a switch up front, as Zach Robinson replaced Donte Lodge-Francis. With the last quarter of the game to go, Assal went into the book and from the resulting free kick Charles Noyelle latched onto the ball, turned and fired it past White to level the scores. Wimbledon had been pegged back. Shortly after Macnab became the second Dons player to collect a yellow card.
With a quarter of an hour to go, Gillingham were back in the tie and looking for a second goal to stop the game going to extra-time. Wimbledon gathered their composure and started to build again from the back through their best player Collins, as the match entered the final ten minutes.
With just two minutes remaining though, Gillingham won a free-kick just outside the box after a foul on substitute Jay Hards. Noyelle stepped up and his low strike from a central position beat White and gave Gillingham the lead. In time added on Campbell scored a third goal, after calls for offside were ignored, as the young Dons disappointingly fell at the first hurdle.
AFC Wimbledon: White, Biler, Currie, Collins, Procter, Rudoni (c), Macnab, Assal, Burey, Lodge-Francis (Robinson), Osew.