Stephen Clemence was proud of Gillingham’s defiant display despite his 10 men suffering a 2-0 defeat against League Two play-off rivals AFC Wimbledon.

Omar Bugiel’s header gave Wimbledon the lead, and things went from bad to worse for the visitors as Conor Masterson received two yellow cards in two minutes to cap a chaotic first half.

Gillingham fought hard to get back into the game after the break, but Bugiel’s second wrapped up a crucial win for the Dons.

The result sees Wimbledon leapfrog their opponents into seventh, while Stephen Clemence’s side drop into 10th.

“I was really proud of the boys in the second half with 10 men,” said Clemence.

“I thought their character was immense actually, to stay in the game and to create one or two things ourselves.

“The first half, I thought we started well, but the game swung in the space of a five or six-minute period.

“We should do better, the challenge isn’t good enough in the box and then obviously a few minutes later we are down to 10 men.

“It is disappointing because I felt we were right in the game, I felt we were giving them problems, but obviously it was not meant to be tonight.

“I thought we were in a good place in the game, all games are difficult, but I thought we were in a good place coming away from home, but as I say the game swung in five or six minutes and it is done now.”

The Dons now have a two-point cushion in seventh, with the Gills, Walsall and Crawley all hot on their heels.

And Wimbledon boss Johnnie Jackson was full of praise for Bugiel after his delightful double.

He said: “He gets a lot of plaudits for the work he does off the ball and how he puts his body on the line and stuff like that.

“That is all true, and he deserves that, but he scored two proper centre-forward goals tonight.

“A headed goal from a cross, but the one I enjoyed even more for Omar is getting the poacher’s goal off a rebound.

“He does not score loads of them and that is where we want him, I want him to think more like a centre-forward and be in those sort of areas so he can capitalise and he is doing it.

“He has been outstanding.

“We did not panic when we had a couple of tricky results, there were reasons behind it we felt but we focused on ourselves and made a few tweaks.

“We look a really good outfit at the minute, but we have got to keep doing it, we haven’t cracked anything, there is no point in us having this but then falling away.”