Gills defender praises competition for places...

Gills defender Tom Flanagan says the side are confident of bouncing back straight away after suffering their first league defeat of the season against Rochdale on Saturday.

Dale took all three points from MEMS Priestfield in a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Andrew Tutte and Bobby Grant, but only after the Gills had been reduced to 10 men after Danny Jackman was dismissed for a two footed tackle before half time.

The hosts rallied in the second half, and although Danny Kedwell’s penalty gave the Gills a chance of a point they were unable to force an equalizer.

Flanagan said the side were disappointed but is convinced they can come back stronger.

He said:  “Obviously we are a little bit disappointed with the decision with Jacko [Danny Jackman]. He says he didn’t think he was in the wrong, I didn’t personally see it but we have to stick by that and it didn’t help but we have got to the point where we have raced away and people will come here and give it an extra 10-15%.

“Every time we will have to up it even more but the boys are not too down – if we win on Tuesday we will stay clear so we need to take it game by game and keep winning.

“No one has been talking about promotion – people have been saying what a great start we have had but people have great starts and almost been relegated so it means nothing at the moment.

“We will stick to the plan we have got, we have a good structure and we will bounce back on Tuesday.”

The centre-back, who is on loan from MK Dons, said he was confident of all three points if 11 men had been on the pitch for the second half.

He said: “If we had 11 men out there we would have battered them, they really struggled in the second half and we had loads of chances.  If we were to play two halves of football like that then nobody in this league will be able to live with us.

“We will take positives from that and we move on.”

For the first time this season Manager Martin Allen named an unchanged side and the defender believed that no-one deserved to lose their place after playing so well at Port Vale last weekend.

He said: “We know the team on Friday and there were no changes – there is so much competitiveness but when you go to the team second in the league and play them off the pitch like we did no-one deserves to be dropped.

“It’s the manager’s right to do that, it’s exactly why he is the manager – it’s his final decision.

“I missed a couple of games because Callum Davies was playing so well. I didn’t go in the office and start shouting asking why I wasn’t playing because I didn’t feel I deserved to play as I lost my place.

“There are 11 shirts out there and everyone wants one and that’s why we are doing so well at the moment.”

Flanagan rejected the idea that he should be playing as he is on loan from a club in League One, and said he should only play if he deserves the place.

He said: “I am exactly the same as Callum Davies, I’m a year older than him but if he is playing really well and getting man of the matches and not putting a foot wrong then I have no right, especially when you’re winning.

“If we were bottom of the league and he was keeping his place, or Adam Barrett or Matt Fish then everyone has a right, but at the moment no one has a right because we are doing so well as a team.

“The manager hasn’t put a foot wrong, he didn’t on Saturday, that was just a tackle which the referee saw differently to how we did and that’s how it ended up.

“We’ve got 36 games left and to lose one is nothing. We’ll go eight games unbeaten now and then we might lose on the ninth and then repeat it. If we do that we will get promoted that’s how we see it and that’s the confidence the manager has given us and we’re loving it.”

Flanagan looked forward to the game at Northampton tomorrow night and responded to how much of a handful striker Ade Akinfenwa will pose at Sixfields.

He responded: “I’ve heard he’s more than a handful! He’s a big fella but to be honest I have never played against him. I’ve played against Clive Platt who is with them as he is ex-MK Dons.

“I would say that he poses more of a problem than Akinfenwa because he isn’t lightening quick so you can play very high against him and get tight. Clive Platt is like Dele Adebola, he’s more of an `on the shoulder` kind of fella.

“He will head it across and that’s something we need to be careful of. They are a strong side and Adrian Boothroyd has a very strict way of playing and it works.

“He did it at Watford; he doesn’t have the same calibre of players but they will be up there at the end of the season.”