Gills boss not happy with second half display at the Abbey Stadium.
Steve Evans saw his Gillingham side eliminated from the EFL Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday night after falling to a gutsy Cambridge United, who struck twice in the second half without response at the Abbey Stadium.
Although disappointed, Evans immediately set his focus back to the Sky Bet League One and their away visit to Doncaster on Saturday.
Despite resting a number of first-team regulars, Evans felt his side contained enough quality to make it past The U’s. The lost cup tie, however, has given the Gills boss another opportunity to assess players on the fringes of the team as he weighs up transfer options.
He said after the game: “I wish Cambridge United all the very best; they are a good club. They have been as strong as they can be tonight, good luck to them in the competition. We now have to prepare for what is important to us, League One.
“I don’t think there was much between the sides in the first half. I think we were cancelling each other out. In the second half they wanted to win more. They were sharper to the ball, they had more of it and it could have been a lot more to be honest. Too many players didn’t perform in the second half. If you don’t work hard you’re in for a long evening, and it was a long evening.
“That side was good enough to beat Cambridge tonight but you have to match their effort, commitment and passion to want to win. We didn’t. You can see what it meant to the Cambridge lads. They were shouting, balling and screaming as they went up the tunnel, credit to them. I have nothing but praise for a team with that attitude.
“They have gone strong, but we made the decision to protect players for league. We need to prepare as best we can for Saturday (away to Doncaster), we have a lot of injuries and a lot of situations that I hope will clear up for us.”
Upcoming opponents Doncaster sit eighth in Sky Bet League One, a point above Gillingham, albeit with a game in hand, are a side hotly tipped for promotion and have impressed under the leadership of former Rovers player Darren Moore.
Evans said: “I love big Darren. He’s a good manager, how he got the sack at West Brom is beyond everyone in football. He’s gone into Doncaster and he’s carried on the great work of Grant McCann. He’s put a real good side together. I’ve watched a rerun of their win at Northampton and it was very, very comfortable. We will be fully tested when we go there but we will have a plan. We have had a plan for the last few weeks, when we beat some good sides as well.
“We will be playing against a team which I feel will be competing for automatic promotion. But we can see where we are in the table next to them and if we can add to our points tally.”
The Gillingham manager says he has busy been preparing for the January transfer window and expects to be active as he lines up some potential targets.
He said: “I’ve sat with the Chairman. We know the players we want and we know the back-ups if we don’t get our first choices. We are not talking a major overhaul. Overall the boys have done brilliant to be where we are.
“We will do our best to get our targets in. Conversations are happening with clubs and the agents to see what we can do.
“We want to bring in players that will start,” Evans added. “That will improve the players in our team who are currently holding the shirt.”