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Boss Steve Evans says antics from Oxford United's Tariqe Fosu fired up Rainham End and helped Gillingham raise their game

Tariqe Fosu’s miraculous recovery on the Priestfield pitch helped raise the Gills, said their manager Steve Evans.

He admitted his Gillingham side weren’t at their best in the first half of Saturday's game against Oxford United but noticed the difference in noise from the home areas once the visitors' Fosu had returned to life.

Connor Ogilvie clears from Oxford's Dan Agyei Picture: Ady Kerry
Connor Ogilvie clears from Oxford's Dan Agyei Picture: Ady Kerry

“The Rainham End were absolutely tremendous,” Evans said. “I think in actual fact their player (Fosu), who was dead in the first half, he was dead wasn’t he?

“He gets (up and puts) a cross into the box and their player jumps to head it and nearly gets on it at the far stick. The referee said it was just someone having a bit of fun.”

Fosu had gone down under a firm but fair challenge from Barry Fuller and was motionless as play continued – until the ball came to him.

The Gills were a goal behind at the time, trailing to a fine Fosu goal, curling the ball home as he glided into the box. Evans would have preferred for the fans to remember that moment.

Evans continued: “It raised the Rainham End and I am not knocking Fosu, he is a terrific talent, but you can’t do that son!

“He is too good a player for anyone to go out of the ground and remember that incident, they should remember the outstanding footwork when he gets on the ball.”

There were several flashpoints in the match with visiting striker Jamie Mackie at the centre of much of it. His collision with Connor Ogilvie early in the second half could have been a lot worse.

Mackie was already on a booking for dissent after a disagreement with the Gills’ management in the opening half.

“I am just pleased Connor Ogilvie’s head missed the wall,” Evans said, after the two players ended up hurtling out of play.

“He got pushed off the pitch and I saw his head miss the wall by a fraction.

“Jamie Mackie went for the ball and was overly committed. He tried to ease him out, you are pushing to protect yourself, but there is no place for it, not with a concrete wall there. It is dangerous, but thankfully Connor got up.”

There were comments said throughout the match between players and management. Even the Oxford fitness coach became involved, but nothing got out of hand.

Evans said: “I don’t think anything crossed the line but I wasn’t involved in any of it, to be fair. There were a few verbals between some players, Paul (Raynor, the Gills assistant) and Karl (Robinson, the Oxford manager) had a few words and I don’t know who would win that fight!

“It is passion, commitment and I have said it for years, watch Liverpool versus Manchester United, watch what Mr Klopp is about.

“The difference is if you are top of the Premier League and have built a wonderful team and you are a wonderful coach like he is, he can do what he likes, he can be as passionate as he likes.

“There was passion on the sides but there was some passion on the pitch too, some real passionate ones.

“Oxford are a tough team to play against, you have to go to war with Oxford, it is the nature of the game with Karl. We both fight, we are both very competitive.

“They changed their team to be very physical and competitive here and that is why the likes of Mackie came in, when you play Jamie like that he’s a handful.”

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