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Harris | "What we have done has been quite miraculous"

Gills boss praises the club after defeating top of the league Leyton Orient to secure EFL status with three games to play.

19 April 2023

Neil Harris reflects on the club's achievement of securing EFL status after beating Leyton Orient at ME7.

Gillingham shone brightly against league leaders Leyton Orient before the encounter was plunged into complete blackness in surely one of the most incredible games of football ever contested at MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Tuesday evening.

With automatic promotion at stake for the O’s and league safety in reach for the Gills, the atmosphere was crackling pre-match. Orient started the brighter but an early red card and resulting free-kick goal by Alex MacDonald quickly dimmed their bulb. Cheye Alexander’s coolly dispatched 76th minute penalty seemed to have put the game to bed before a power cut left everyone in the dark.

Fortunately after a 25 minute delay the game was finally able to be finished, albeit with little to report, but not before the Orient players had piled on top of each other in more bizarre scenes as news filtered through that they had secured automatic promotion on account of results elsewhere causing the away end to erupt in pandemonium.

“I’ve never been involved in anything like this,” reflected Gills manager Neil Harris after the game. “I have seen a lot in football, played 600 games, managed 400 games, played non-league and I have not been involved in an incident like this. It was bizarre, but what a great way to stay in the division.

“We have just beaten Leyton Orient 2-0 at home to secure our league status. It’s a fantastic result, a brilliant performance, well done to the players.

“I would like to place on record my congratulations to Richie Wellens and his group who were by far the best team over the course of the season. Orient deserve to be league champions.

"Since the New Year (at home in league) we have had 28 points out of 33, that ain't bad going. Never mind in the division, I'm not sure anyone in the country has a better points return than that. The last three months have been the start for us. We have to make sure we continuously build and go through the divisions but what we have done has been quite miraculous."

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