Gills boss delighted with the application of his players following shock cup win over Brentford.
Neil Harris and his players scaled huge obstacles, literally and metaphorically, on their way to beating Premier League opposition in the Carabao Cup last night.
Twice the kick-off time against Brentford was put back as the Gills team bus got caught up in gridlocked traffic chaos. Harris used the hour and a half standstill to deliver tactical information to his men as they waited for the bus to carry on its journey to the Gtech Community Stadium.
With the heavy traffic showing no signs of moving, the Gillingham team got out of the bus and walked the last quarter of a mile to the ground, where they climbed barriers, hopped fences and jogged straight out onto the pitch.
“It was carnage,” admitted the Gillingham manager. “We had to walk to the stadium because we couldn’t get there. That was a challenge; we had to climb barriers and get over fences, but as a group we had to help each other over those fences and the players took it in their stride.”
Things didn’t get much better after kick-off; three minutes into the delayed contest World Cup England hopeful Ivan Toney shot Brentford into an early lead.
“I think 2,500 Gills fans as well as my whole bench, me included, feared for us then,” confessed Harris. “When you give good teams that don't need it a foothold and a leg-up then it’s backs to the wall. The second goal was crucial. If they scored again it was game over. We weren’t going to score two goals.”
Gillingham, who have struggled to find the net this season, fought admirably against a team who sit 11th place amongst the country’s elite and were rewarded with a late Mikael Mandron equaliser; their first effort on target.
The game then went straight to penalties where the Gills held their nerve to see off Brentford 6-5, sending the huge travelling support into raptures.
“It was a memorable night,” said Harris. “Partly because of the performance and the fans but also with what we endured to get there. I’m just so pleased that everybody got to go home happy.”
Gillingham, who are now down to the last 16 in the competition, await the fourth round draw on Thursday evening where they hope they are rewarded with another chance to test themselves against the best. Let’s hope it’s at home!