Gills boss reacts following 2-1 defeat to Doncaster.
Steve Evans said he was disappointed with his side’s first half display on Saturday as Doncaster secured all three points in a 2-1 win over Gillingham at the Keepmoat Stadium.
The hosts bossed proceedings for much of the opening half and took the lead when Reece James beat Jack Bonham with a precise finish with the outside of his left foot from 20 yards.
Gills were brighter after the break and drew level thanks to skipper Kyle Dempsey, only to concede a second soon after, and Doncaster remained defensively solid to see out the game.
Speaking afterwards, Evans said: “We never showed up in the first half, we seemed to be devoid of everything we are good at. Working hard, holding the ball, passing the ball, moving, chasing, winning the ball. It was a really poor performance and in some respect I’m glad to go in only 1-0 down.
“I planned to make five changes, that was the plan going into the dressing room, but then you analyse how you try to get back in the game. We made a couple of changes, come out, and laid siege to their goal, we get the goal, and then one or two switch off. We give it away cheaply on the edge of their box, they break and score.
“Dom had a few options, tried to play a 1-2 with Kyle, they cut out and break on us. When we equalised we were much better than them in that spell; as a manager you have to reflect on the full 90 and not just 45.
“At the end, without making a clear cut chance, all the play is in their half. They’re obviously going to have the odd counter attack because we are chasing the game.
“They ran it into corners in the last few minutes. We were much better in the second half; they probably deserved to win the game because of how poor we were in the first half.”
After making a couple of changes during the interval the Gills boss was far happier with the second half display, and believes he already knows who will be in his starting XI for Tuesday’s visit of Accrington.
He added: “When people try and run about we become a difficult team to play against. In the first half we had no quality, sat off them and maybe showed them too much respect and when we did get a chance to pass it our quality was poor, and when we did get a chance to close people down with pace, tenacity and aggression – there was none of it. We licked our wounds for the first half but I can’t fault what I’ve seen in the second half. They are an excellent side, we should have been out of it at half time.
“One thing I can assure the Gills supporters is that there will be 11 players who start the game [against Accrington] who I know, will give me everything they’ve got.
“They fight, and have good players. Jimmy [Bell – Assistant] and John [Coleman – Manager] have done a brilliant job. I think last year they would have finished in the play offs had the season not stopped short.
“I know my team now. When I came out of Bristol Rovers I knew my team for Swindon.
“We’ll go on the training ground Monday, the boys will be put into a particular shape, we’ll plan, prepare properly and try to beat a good Accrington side.”
The manager confirmed that bringing Jacob Mellis off towards the end of the game was merely to get some fresher legs on the pitch.
He added: “We were looking for more energy late on in the game. He’s only had two training sessions since coming back into the group. When he went on we said he would probably get half an hour; he had run out of legs so we tried to get some freshness back on.
“I thought he made a big impact, we’ll see how he recovers.”