Steve Evans was left fuming at Stuart O’Keefe’s first-half sending off as Gillingham fell to a 4-1 home defeat against MK Dons.
Vadaine Oliver’s header had put the Gills in front on 20 minutes before O’Keefe received his marching orders for a second bookable offence with less than half an hour gone, conceding a penalty in the process.
Scott Twine’s effort was saved, but he hammered home the rebound before Peter Kioso and late strikes from Troy Parrott and Max Watters earned a big win for the visitors.
But Evans was not happy about going down to 10 men, saying: “It [the sending off] is a game-changer. I have no complaints about the first yellow for Stuart, but does the second have to be a yellow? Is there any contact?
“That made it difficult for us; they score the penalty and in the second half we tried to take the game to them.
“We said we would rather lose heavily and have a go, and I think we did. We stayed in the game until 80 minutes and that’s testament to the players.
“The second goal is bad defending and they got a deflection for the third goal that kills the game really. The boys have given everything; I can’t fault them. I couldn’t have asked for any more.”
The Gills had some nice periods in the second half, but were largely outplayed after O’Keefe’s dismissal.
Dons boss Liam Manning admitted that the red card had played its part as his side moved up to third in Sky Bet League One.
He said: “I thought it was a really difficult game, and we knew that coming into it. I thought in the first 10 minutes we played well and had a 10-15 minute period where we forced things a bit.
“Then, after that, we got the goal back and got some momentum back in the game. The sending off obviously played a big part.
“I think that it’s really important that we’ve got multiple people that can score goals, and we’re not dependent on one person.
“Credit to the guys, they own that as well with the creativity they have. Then the ruthless edge, which is really important for us and we need to keep them.
“I’m delighted for Max [Watters]. He’s had a tough start missing a few games coming in, and he’s worked hard to get back into the condition that he’s in and he’s had a good couple of weeks of solid training.”