Gills boss happy with three points but still seeking improvements.
Gillingham Manager Steve Lovell was left with mixed emotions despite seeing his side record back-to-back victories in 2018 and move further away from the relegation zone after victory against Rochdale at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
Goals from Bradley Garmston and skipper Lee Martin secured all three points for the Gills after Andy Cannon had put the visitors in front. The hosts then dropped deep and invited pressure onto themselves in the final stages of the game but held out for the victory with Billy Knott blazing over from just five metres out in stoppage time.
Lovell vowed that the coaching staff and squad would be working hard over the coming week to remedy the tense finale, but was delighted to get another win on the board and sees the tinge of disappointment as a good marker of how far the Gills have progressed this season.
“I’m so happy with the result, but the last quarter of an hour wasn’t one that I’d like to have every week. We started very brightly in the second half and got the one goal to take the lead, but after we’re thinking ‘we’re two one up, we’re at home, let’s hang on to it’. It was a mental thing.
“It was the first time we’ve been behind in ages but it was a nice, gutsy comeback!
“We’ve got to look at how were going to improve, not being so deep and allowing midfield players time on the ball. We’ve discussed it in the dressing room and the players have had their say because they have a different view than from the touchline. We’ll work on it together.
“It’s good to get three points, but it’s the first time I’ve sat here a bit disappointed. That shows you what we’re aiming for – it wasn’t good enough, we know that and we will work hard to improve it.”
Lovell was delighted to see Bradley Garmston, after a long lay-off with injury, and Gills captain Lee Martin got the crucial goals.
“I’m pleased for the pair of them. Bradley has had a tough time with injuries and so it was nice for him to get a goal.
“It was lovely for Marts to get the winner. He’s a true professional. He keeps the boys going, he loves the game of football, and he loves winning – you can’t have too many of those in your team.
"The turnaround under Lovell continues, and the Gills Manager was quick to point out the transition since he took over.
“Every game there has been something that needs to be worked on to improve, but each little bit is getting better and better. I hope this result here will be the start of something that we can build on as we’re in a position now where we can hopefully move on.
“All of the boys out there – what they’ve done in the time that we’ve been here has been phenomenal. We’ve come through some bad times, and now we're enjoying some good times.
“Our aim is to get to 50-odd points as quickly as we can. Anything else is a bonus as the start of the season wasn’t the best for us.”