Gillingham manager Andy Hessenthaler admitted he felt like he was watching the circus after seeing his side crash to a 3-1 defeat at AFC Wimbledon.

Striker Christian Jolley put the Dons ahead on 10 minutes and doubled the lead with his fourth goal of the season just two minutes later to leave Gillingham shell-shocked. Jack Midson struck a third to all-but end the contest and although Charlie Lee hit a second-half consolation there was no way back for Gillingham.

And Hessenthaler, whose side are now five points behind the leaders Southend, claimed he could barely believe what he was watching. He said: "It was like a circus, and these players are better that. It's hard at any ground to come back from 3-0 down."

He added: "We weren't good enough for the whole 90 minutes. Forget about the second half, we lost the game in the first half. It's not acceptable and I apologise to the fans. We can't come to places and defend the way we defended as a group. You've got to come away from home and be solid early on in the game but we weren't that today.

"They're experienced players, but Matt (Lawrence) just didn't deal with the ball for the first goal. We switched off for the second and the third one was joke. Jo Kuffour did well when he came on, and Danny Jackman was terrific when he moved to left back but there were a lot of players out there who weren't good enough.

"It's only 11 games into the season and there is a long way to go but we've got to start being a consistent side."

Jolley's double made it three in two games for him and four for the season, leaving manager Terry Brown purring. He said: "I was really pleased with the way we raced into an early lead. I think the pitch temperature got up to 44 degrees out there so it was never a game you would want to be chasing.

"It was a magnificent attacking display and we could have scored more. But the second half was different, and I've been in games like that so many times.

"Whatever you say to the players, if you're leading 2-0 or 3-0 the boys are going to switch off a bit. We knew they were going to come back into the game so it was an uglier half yet we defended well. Being the ever moaning manager that I am I'm expecting the midfield to contribute some goals now.

"We want to go forward and we like to attack so I need some goals from other areas. We don't want to go raising false hopes about promotion. We're a young side and as soon as we're safe we can start looking up the league."

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