Steve Evans said there is a feeling of frustration in not making the League 1 play-offs, but is proud of his team for what they have achieved.
A 20-goal haul from Vadaine Oliver, countless mazy runs from Jordan Graham, Kyle Dempsey’s determined bite in midfield and that cannonball-like throw from Ryan Jackson had supporters dreaming of a play-off trip to Wembley, but it wasn’t to be.
In the end, Gillingham, who signed off the season with a 1-0 victory over Plymouth on Sunday thanks to another trademark Big V header, fell just short. Steve Evans, however, had nothing but praise for his players and staff as the Gills finally settled in the top half of the table, just seven points shy of the top six.
Evans, speaking with local media after the win, said: “In the second half we should have had three or four. It was a good a win against a good team.
“We finish tenth so we go home frustrated but I can’t thank the players and staff enough. They have given absolutely everything and more and I’ve just told them that in the dressing room.
“I’m smiling with hurt and I’m smiling with frustration. We know what we could have achieved. We allowed our supporters to dream but we didn’t have enough to see it through.
“I’ll go away and review the season. I’ll go walking with my dogs over the fields with no one in sight and think about everything, every point dropped, every goal conceded but the bigger picture is that tenth in the league, a couple of points away from Portsmouth and Charlton, is absolutely incredible. We know what could have been, probably what should have been, but it has not happened. The league table never lies.
“I believe if we had got in the play-offs we would have won them. I wish the play-off teams every success, I’m very envious, but it’s very difficult to get in them. We have learnt a hard lesson in ten minutes of two games, and that has cost us.”
When pressed on his thoughts for the ‘Player of the Season’ award, a proud Evans struggled to single out one name from his small but committed squad who gave it their all week in, week out, in empty stadiums in the most strangest of campaigns.
He said: “The thirteen, fourteen players that have delivered it in the main, they are the players of the year. For me, I couldn’t pick one individual. I could look at Jordan Graham’s magical season, Vadaine’s 20 goals, Dempsey or O’Keefe coming back from injury with so much energy, Jack Tucker being the Jack Tucker we know and love, Connor Ogilvie continues to be outstanding and Bonner [Jack Bonham] in goal. I’m proud of all the players; they have worked so hard in a Covid year, they have been nothing short of fantastic.
“The only thing that is missing is that we are not in a position today to applaud our supporters who are the lifeblood of this football club.”