Gills Manager reacts to win over Northampton...
Gills Manager Martin Allen said he was proud of his players following the 2-1 win over Northampton on Tuesday evening which extends the club’s gap at the top of npower League Two.
Goals from Deon Burton and Jack Payne either side of half time put the visitors in a strong position, and although former Gills striker Adebayo Akinfenwa pulled one back late on they were unable to break down a strong defence for the second time.
Martin was delighted with the effort his squad showed and praised the fans too for the part they played in clinching victory.
Following the game he said: “It was absolutely fantastic, the swirling wind and the quick pitch made it difficult to go out and play, but we set out to try and play good football and pass and move it around.
“We did that in the first half quite well, and in the second half it was always going to be backs to the wall against the wind and playing on the counter attack, but what a great performance.
“It was a squad effort because the boys on the bench were giving it plenty on the side and all the people behind the goal too. It’s quite a long journey up here on a Tuesday night but they gave it everything to help our team and I’m sure for them it was a long last 20 minutes looking down the pitch to the other goal.
“I ran on the pitch at the end to thank them for coming, it was a nervous 10 minutes but we didn’t want our team to sit back, it’s not something we say on the sides. It wasn’t planned but when you have long throws going in like that it makes it difficult.
“I’ve watched so many games here, they have long throws from both sides, long free kicks going into the box and they have people who can compete. They also have a centre forward who is very difficult and a good player.
“The ball was going to be around our box so you have to defend as a team, not isolate the defenders and everybody to a man stood up to it and went above the call of duty once again.
“I thought we got it down and played some good football. The wind made it a bit difficult but that’s a skill we practice all the time – we could have been better in the final third in the first half with plenty of good opportunities from crossing areas but we never took them.
“In the second half we were up against a tough, stiff wind but we still tried to get it down and play which was the most pleasing thing.
“We knocked it about, zipped it about and dominated possession and I was very proud of all of them to a man and it’s another great result for our team.”
Martin commented on the goals from Deon Burton and Jack Payne and praised both for taking them so well.
He said: “Burton’s finish was quality and when you get those chances you have to take them.
“That’s two goals that Jack has got from that position – great technical finishes. He is in the team to get the ball down, play and move it through midfield. I have been through here a few times so we could either have gone in for the battle against them but I picked a team who could mix it with them and stand up to the challenge that they present and try to incorporate some good legs in midfield - that’s why we went with Allen, Whelpdale and Payne.
“Jack Payne’s finish in the bottom corner was very similar to Barnet – I’m sure with more work there is so much more to come. His attitude has been fantastic for the last week, he has been trained extremely hard but he has welcomed it and embraced it.
“He was going to have a few more days training to be honest but I thought the way he had worked he deserved to play.”
Gillingham were reduced to ten men late on with Charlie Allen seeing red following a late challenge in second half injury time, and Martin admitted that the discipline at the club needs to improve but is delighted to see the level of commitment from his younger players.
He said: “I thought the first tackle he was trying to get the ball and it was 60/40 against but such is his desire, willingness, hunger and be a winner he probably deserved a yellow. The second one he ran about 45 yards to close that ball down – perhaps he shouldn’t have made that tackle and he made a wrong decision to put his foot in like that.
“You have to hold your hands up to the boy and say it was great effort and commitment. It was the courage and determination that we want around our club. Forty yards he ran in the 94th minute to make that tackle but it was a yellow card and he deserved to get sent off.
“Our young lads are doing everything to keep their place in the team – we will have to improve the disciplinary record but when you have young lads like Dack, Allen and Tom Flanagan they are finding and learning their way through it.
“With experience hopefully better decision making will come. It’s the same for the other boys aswell – we show them, we teach them and we learn from it and improve from it. He will miss one game, he’ll be absolutely devastated but my god he played well tonight.
“We can’t knock it because that energy, desire, enthusiasm and will is getting us these wins away from home but of course we will have to slightly improve the discipline and that goes without saying.”