Neil Harris heaped praise on his team for the way they kept going in extreme heat to record victory over Harrogate at Priestfield.
Gills manager Neil Harris was impressed with the character his side showed in the 1-0 win against Harrogate Town at the Priestfield Stadium.
In the sweltering conditions at ME7, Gillingham had to dig deep to secure the victory, with Shaun Williams scoring in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time.
It was the fifth time this season that Harris’ side had kept a clean sheet in the league, the best record in Sky Bet League Two, and the Gillingham boss credited his side’s defensive solidity, especially in response to the recent league defeats.
With a full week to rest and to build towards the home fixture against Morecambe, Harris was enthused by the progress his injured players were making as they continue their road to recovery.
The character of the squad…
On Shaun Williams - "Credit to him to get through the game like he did at his age. Obviously, he has gotten through the game, and I’m pleased that we had no one to put on for him because the goal might not have come.
"He has got through because we were playing Robbie McKenzie in the centre of the park, which he has done very well for us, but it is not a natural position for him because we’re so light.
"George Lapslie has got through 60-odd minutes. He needed to come off after 25 minutes. He needed to come off. He signalled to say that he might be done already because he’s had 30 minutes of football training in two-and-a-half weeks, so I’m delighted with the character shown by the boys.
"Tom Nichols has not trained. He came to see me yesterday and said- ‘Gaffer, we’re short. I know you are thinking about going with five subs, but I have probably got 15 minutes in me.’ I thought that the game dictated that I put him on at 65 minutes, and he had to go for longer than we had hoped.
"I am really pleased with the character of the players, and off the back of maybe stern words from me last week in my post-match presser and in the changing room. That is a great way to respond. I cannot praise the players highly enough for that result.
"Credit to the group because Harrogate stats-wise are as good as anybody on the counter-attack. They would have seen us against Colchester getting done twice on the counter-attack and would have seen us at Grimsby. Like I said, I take responsibility for the Grimsby one. I picked the wrong team and the wrong legs.
"They would have seen that and picked a team accordingly today to do it. Fair play to my players. Not just the defensive unit, but the goalkeeper and front players as well for being solid. I am not even sure if Jake had to make a save in the game. One maybe. We looked reliable.
"When you do score late, you do expect it to be the final whistle at 96 minutes. Then you have to rely on experience and Max Ehmer, as disappointed as he was to miss out, to come on the pitch and look so composed, comfortable and lead. It is a great avenue for us to see games out."
Being top of the league and building upon it…
"It is important as it builds belief and confidence. The fans are still demanding a little bit more because we have lacked a little bit of end product here in this game, and I get it. At the moment, we are doing enough to win games, and I want to be clear again, we have won seven out of ten.
"It is a great effort in the space of four-and-a-half weeks. We are top of the table after seven league games, but there is more to come from the group. For us to keep winning games, we are going to have to keep producing more."
"Oli Hawkins has been on the grass for the last two days and trained this morning. Will he be ready for next week? Possibly, which will be massive for us.
"Ethan [Coleman] is available (back from suspension). Tim Dieng is going to be out for six weeks, so he is a big loss. George Lapslie has got through 60 minutes, so we will have to nurse him through the next 72 hours to get him up to speed.
"Dom [Jefferies] is not going to be a million miles away. Next week is probably too soon because it’s a hamstring injury. He will have to be really careful with his high-speed running, especially with the way he runs. Maybe next week is too soon, but we will judge it during the week."