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Harris | "We had a right go"

Gills boss reflects on the defeat to Luton and looks ahead to Saturday's tie at Grimsby.

31 August 2023

Neil Harris said the team is in a strong place as the squad prepares to travel to Grimsby in League 2.

Gillingham manager Neil Harris was proud of the fight and courage his team showed in their 3-2 defeat against Premier League Luton Town at Kenilworth Road in the Second Round of the Carabao Cup.

Harris was pleased with how his side battled after going two goals down during the first half.

Jayden Clarke also scored his first Gillingham goal in the second half, bringing the score to 2-1. Harris was delighted with the 22-year-old’s performance in what he believed to be a coming-of-age moment.

The Gills started with a back five for the first time this season, giving the Gills boss another option ahead of Saturday’s fixture at Grimsby.


Assessment of the game…

I thought we had some excellent passages of play. We were really brave with the ball at times, and I thought we got into good areas, especially in the second half. I thought we asked a lot of questions of Luton. I thought they showed some ability as well at times and some real pace and quality to find shooting opportunities. The scoreline was very close, and we take huge credit from that.


Response to going two goals down…

To show the character and personality that we did when we went 2-0 down after 35 minutes- teams may have crumbled against some quality opposition, but we did not. We regrouped at half-time and had a right go in the second half.

We got back to 2-1 and 3-2 and built a bit of pressure and momentum, but we did not have that next moment. At the end, we could have scored, and Macauley Bonne had that great chance at 2-1. They are the margins that when you go against top players, you can fall the wrong side of.


On Jayden Clarke…

I thought he was outstanding. I thought his composure and quality for the goal and his all-round game was as good as both worldies that Luton scored. I put Jayden’s effort into that top category as well. I thought we saw everything that we wanted from Jayden: he ran forward, he handled the football, and he was excellent without the ball. That is his best game in a Gillingham shirt by a mile, and he really came of age tonight.


Looking ahead to Grimsby…

I rotated players tonight with the utmost respect to the competition, and I felt like I have brought in good players as well as taken some senior players out who might struggle with three games in a week. We changed shape for the first time this season. I really enjoyed it. That is something that we have got to look at going into Saturday’s game.

I thought everybody who came in did extremely well, and we have Ethan Coleman missing because of a ban, which is unfortunate. Then, the injuries to George [Lapslie], Dom [Jefferies] and Oli [Hawkins], but we are in a strong position at the moment.

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