Lovell: "We didn't give up"

Lovell disappointed with ‘tired’ performance but pleased with fighting spirit that earns the Gills a point.

Gillingham manager Steve Lovell thought that the run of games his players went through in the run up to Christmas effected their usual level of performance, but he was delighted that they managed to dig themselves out of a hole and earn a point in a 1-1 draw at home to Oxford on Boxing Day.

After an uneventful first half, Oxford took the lead in fortuitous circumstances through Ricardinho when his deflected effort wrong-footed Tomas Holy and bobbled into the corner. But Conor Wilkinson was on hand to smash home an equaliser with time running out and snatch a point for the Gills.

After two wins on the bounce, Lovell was disappointed to see performance levels dip but understood that fatigue played a part.

“It was a poor game. We weren’t sharp and we looked heavy-legged from the start but you’ve still got to dig in and get something out of the game.

"I’m disappointed that we didn’t win, but I don’t think either side deserved to win. It was one of those games where a mistake or a bit of brilliance will win the game.

“The quality in the game wasn’t as good as it has been, but we didn’t give up.”

Lovell threw on Greg Cundle, Conor Wilkinson and Elliot List as the game entered the closing stages and was pleased that fresh legs made the impact he was hoping for.

“We had to change something as it wasn’t working with the personnel we had on there. So we had to go and get a point, and making those changes had a positive effect.

“When we made the subs it looked as though we could have gone and got another one. The three boys that came on contributed to a good quarter of an hour at the end of the game when we were on top.”

Lovell was delighted that Conor Wilkinson was able to get his first goal in front of the Rainham End for the Gills and now wants him to push on.

“Conor’s been working hard in training, waiting for his opportunity. Hopefully, that goal will lift him because he took it really well. You put him on for that reason.

“Since I had a chat with him earlier on in the season, he’s improved his work rate and he’s a talented boy – hopefully now this will push him on and push Tom Eaves. There’s goals between them and Josh Parker as well.”