Gaffer reacts as Gills leave it late to defeat Oxford.
Gillingham Manager Steve Lovell couldn’t hide his pride as he saw his side seal a huge three points on Saturday afternoon with a narrow 1-0 win over Oxford United.
Brandon Hanlan’s 89th minute winner proved to be the difference as Gillingham moved up to 13th after a 1-0 win at Priestfield.
Speaking after the game, Lovell said: “We definitely deserved it, they didn’t have a shot on target today. The conditions weren’t good and that dictated the way the game was going to be. We knew it would be a battle, it was never going to be a pretty game. I said to the younger boys that sometimes you learn things in your career and that what was what happened today.”
Tom Eaves saw a penalty early in the second half saved by Simon Eastwood as the game looked to be heading for a goalless draw, but Hanlan’s sixth of the season sealed three vital points for Steve Lovell’s side.
Lovell added: “When Tom missed the penalty you’re looking at it being one of them days again but to get a goal in the last minute makes up for it – looking at what happened last week (conceding the last-minute equaliser) I think it’s evened it out. Over the balance of play I think we deserved it. It gives the boys a lift when you look at the table. Now it makes Tuesday’s game against Bristol Rovers all the better to win, we want to finish as high as we can.”
Gillingham restricted the Oxford forward line to very few chances and Lovell paid tribute to his Gills backline, which again impressed: "It’s our third clean sheet in five games and we aren’t giving teams goals anymore, we are defending as a team, we are working together, and we are denying teams from having shots on target. “
Lovell also praised captain Max Ehmer who made his 200th appearance on Saturday afternoon and was awarded with a special plaque before kick off.
Steve said: “Max and Connor are a right good partnership, Connor was outstanding today too. Max was captain when Ady (Pennock) was here, and he wasn’t comfortable with it at the time, but now he loves it, he is two years on, and he has got that experience on his side. He leads by example. I thought all the back four did their job well today.”
Lovell saved the final word for his matchwinner, Brandon Hanlan, who notched his sixth goal of the season, Lovell said: “Brandon will be a crowd favourite – the way that he works, the way that he gives everything and the number of blocks he made today too. I sat down with him yesterday afternoon when we finished training and I said that the only thing missing from his game was goals. Listy has come on again today and he is unfortunate to be out of the team – he is a great prospect too.”