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Harris | "I am seeing really good signs in the group"

Gills boss delighted with the clean sheet mentality and match winning quality moments following victory at AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup.

10 August 2022

Manager reacts following dramatic late victory at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.

Gills boss Neil Harris said he is seeing good signs from his group of players following Tuesday’s 2-0 win over AFC Wimbledon at Plough Lane.

Subs Mika Mandron and Jordan Green both scored within three minutes of each other in the closing stages of the first round Carabao Cup tie, and the manager was delighted to see that a clean sheet mentality was sustained, while then taking the match winning opportunities at the other end.

Speaking after the game he said: "I thought we deserved to win. It's about finding ways to win games. I have to praise the goalkeeper, who I thought was excellent, and the backline to get a clean sheet.

“We changed shape, a little bit off the cuff, relied a little bit on some experience in the team – we walked through it on Monday and went through some video work.

“I just felt it was a shape that we needed to look at, I thought it was a shape which suited the players. Tranmere were playing 3-5-2 at the weekend, as a lot of teams do in the division, so it's something we’ve got to think about for the future.

“I thought we were good in patches, I thought we looked slightly off it in patches, I thought we scored an extremely good goal, disallowed, and should have a penalty, clear cut, and Lewis Walker nine times out of ten puts that ball in the back of the net [first half chance].

“I’m delighted for the lads that came on, they impacted the game, game changers. Bringing on Mika, Jordan and Ben Reeves is not a bad trio to bring on.

“We are still trying to add to the group because we feel we need options. We missed Stuey [O’Keefe] and Dom [Jefferies] tonight; in pre-season I didn’t have an opportunity to try a different shape because we didn’t quite have the right numbers or personnel; tonight was important to look at a 3-5-2 shape going into Tranmere on Saturday.”

Mandron and Green proved to be the super subs, both scoring in front of the travelling Gills supporters in the away end and the boss was pleased to see them both find the target.

He added: “Two great finishes, I am delighted for them. Scott got off the mark on Saturday with the match winner and then two more attacking players got off the mark so I am really pleased.

“I want Mika to score goals and the composure tonight, the finish, both goals are quality goals.

“Jordan is a hungry lad, he’s got a new born, he’s had a good move to the Championship and then for whatever reason he has fallen out of pro Football. From the moment he came in you could see in his eyes his hunger, the way he plays and presses. He’s an infectious character, he’s a game changer in any moment of any game because he has that bright spark.

“I need to make sure I get him right aswell, he’s an athletic pacey player and we have to be careful a little bit, managing at the right times. He’s going to be an important player for us.”

Alex MacDonald started his first game since October last year and played just shy of an hour before making way, and the manager was encouraged to see him complete those minutes, but knows patience will be needed as he works his way up to full match fitness.

He said: “He’s almost done the hour so I am delighted he has got those minutes, yes of course he is going to be a little bit rusty at times but he brings real calmness and experience to the group, and quality aswell. We are going to have to be patient with Macca.

“He’s a great senior player, a good head in the changing room and popular amongst the group.

“I see good signs in the group, I see really good character and development in senior players aswell as young ones and I just feel I need to get the right tactics, formation and team selection. We’ve got an ability I think to find ways to win games of Football.

“We have certainly made strides since the opening game here, but in that game there was nothing between the teams, we shot ourselves in the foot twice. Tonight we stayed in the game, kept the clean sheet mentality and then found the match winning moments.”


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