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Harris | "We made two costly errors from restarts"

Manager reacts to opening day defeat at AFC Wimbledon.

1 August 2022

Manager reflects on the 2-0 defeat to AFC Wimbledon at Plough Lane.

Gills boss Neil Harris said it's clear there are areas in the team that need to be improved following the 2-0 defeat to AFC Wimbledon at the weekend.

Here are his post-match thoughts.


Overall thoughts on the performance…

I thought that we had a lot of control in the game and I didn’t think that there was a lot between the teams, but football matches are about winning games. Ultimately, we’ve made two costly errors from restarts. One from a throw-in and one from a corner, and the ball ends up in the back of our net both times.

I said to the players that in the worst case, that game needs to be 0-0. They were a tough side to break down with their defensive block of five at the back and three sitting in front, and at times we got into some good positions, but we couldn’t punish them.


His thoughts on the two goals…

You have to trust your players to do their jobs, and I pride myself as a manager on being very good at the top end of the pitch with set plays and being very good defensively with set plays.

Today we conceded two goals from restarts, and that can’t happen. The players have to understand that we give them roles and responsibilities to do their jobs, and they can’t deviate from that or make up their own rules because, at any level of football, the ball ends up in the back of the net.

We got it slightly wrong leading to the goal with the guy having a free shot from 20 yards. Don’t get me wrong, the only place the ball ends up in the back of the net is in either top corner. It’s a great strike and fair play to the lad, but it’s avoidable. The second one is just really weak.


Looking forward…

It’s one game, and there are 45 more. I’ve been clear all summer with my thoughts, and I’ve never deviated once. We want to be as competitive as we can be in a tough division. I’ve signed 13 players so far, and I still need a couple more. Then you hope for a bit of luck with injuries, and we want to be competitive against good sides. That’s the bottom line. If we had won 2-0 today, everyone would have been excited talking about promotion candidates, but we lose, and everyone fears for the football club. I don’t do that.


The week ahead…

I just said to the group that I’ve got to pick a team going into next week now, and some of the players maybe didn’t quite do enough, either that started the game or coming off the bench to assure me that they’re ready for next week. I will need to see a lot on the training pitch during the week.

I think what’s clear is that there are areas we can improve within the group. Players have to earn trust from the manager to pick them, and today we just fell short. We didn’t defend our box twice when we should have.

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