Gillingham clinched the signing of the prolific non-league hitman Adam Birchall today, bringing an end to a tug-of-war for the in-demand player.

Three teams, including Swindon Town, AFC Wimbledon and Gillingham, had bids accepted by Dover for the former Arsenal youth player, but it was the Gills who eventually won the battle.

Birchall, who went for a medical at AFC Wimbledon on Monday, becomes their eighth signing of the season for the Gills and has signed a three-year contract.

The 26-year-old started his career with high expectations at Arsenal, and was capped 12 times at under-21 level for Wales.

He was released by the Gunners after a successful loan spell with Wycombe Wanderers, and signed permanently for Mansfield Town.


Following relatively unsuccessful spells with the Stags and then at Barnet, Birchall signed for non-league Dover Athletic to try to rebuild his career.

Birchall scored an impressive 64 goals in 78 league and cup games to become the star player at the Crabble ground, and has now secured a move back into professional football.

Gills manager Andy Hessenthaler told the club's official website: "He scored a lot of goals last year, at Conference South level, but Adam's not a non-league player, people need to realise that he has played in the league.

"It's only three or four years since he was leading scorer at Barnet, so he has scored goals at this level."

Hessenthaler was the man who brought Birchall to Dover and helped reserect his career, and he thinks this was the reason the striker chose Gilligham.

He said: "He had the opportunity to go to other clubs but he's chosen Gillingham. I'd like to think that I've played a part in that because he's worked under me, he knows what I'm about and he knows how hungry I am."

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