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Harris | "We grew into the game"

Gills boss reflects on the 1-0 win over Crawley.

21 August 2023


Harris | "We grew into the game"

Gills boss reflects on the 1-0 win over Crawley.

21 August 2023

Neil Harris says there were a lot of things to learn from on Saturday despite defeating Crawley 1-0.

Gills boss Neil Harris is delighted to have started the season with five successive wins in all competitions. However, he knows his side will need to step it up after the 1-0 victory at Crawley Town.

Jake Turner denied Dom Telford from the penalty spot in the 15th minute before an own goal before half-time clinched the points for the Gills.

Despite the win, Harris wanted to see more out of his side, knowing that the performance could have been better. The Gillingham manager was not afraid to be self-reflective on the fixture but praised how his team managed the game, especially during the closing stages.


Assessment of the game…

We turned the ball over so cheaply. The shape, at times, was wrong. There was loads of good stuff, but I have got to be honest. We maybe got something we did not deserve in the three points.

I thought Crawley had really good patterns, and I thought they dominated the ball. We knew it was going to be a game of transitions, and that we would have to counter well.

After the penalty save, we transitioned really well. We could have been two or three up.

In the second half, every time we won the ball back, we gave it away. I said to the lads that four wins out of four is brilliant, but we cannot be turning balls over like that against good football teams.


Being self-reflective…

I got it wrong. I got it wrong in the game plan in the first 25 minutes. I set the team up wrong. I apologised to the players at half-time because some of the players made poor decisions, but they came off the back of my decision-making and the way I set them up. I take the adulation when I get it right, and if I get it wrong, then I have to own that as well.

I got it wrong in the first 25 minutes, so we adjusted our wide players, and after that, we made Crawley’s centre-halves make a lot of decisions. They made a lot of wrong decisions, and that is why we countered so well.


The penalty save…

It is a great save. As a penalty taker, you pick your way and hope that the goalkeeper dives the other way. Jake guessed right, that is the homework that Jake, Glenn and Deren put in as a group. Glenn and Deren knew straight away which way it was going and what way Jake was going to dive. It goes to show that homework pays off.

It gave us a bit of belief and changed the complexion of the first half if I am honest. We then grew into the game.


The approach towards game management…

Our game management at Sutton was excellent. Our game management at Crawley was good in the sense of slowing stuff down. Free kicks going direct and putting them into the corner and getting around the second balls. Game management is about doing it in the 50/50 as well. Game management is about protecting the ball at the right time and then playing forward at the right time.

My moan today is that the game management was good for periods towards the end but not over the 90 minutes.


Managing expectations and the atmosphere surrounding the club…

I am the one who is trying to manage expectations all the time and play everything down, but the lads are making it really difficult for me!

We have got 42 games to go, plus cup games. It is just the start. The bigger picture is that we have got 12 points and four clean sheets, and when we do have a blip, then we have got the points in the bag.

During the second half, we were poor, but the fans are with us. They are not getting edgy, and they are not shouting at the players. They are so pleased with where we are at. That is the biggest thing for me. I take pride in the Football Club, and then I look at my team and how well we are doing. 

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