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Gillingham manager Steve Evans refutes suggestions Priestfield pitch was made difficult for Oxford United on purpose

The condition of the Priestfield pitch had nothing to do with who Gillingham were playing against, insists home boss Steve Evans.

Visiting manager Karl Robinson said to his players the state of the Gills pitch was a "wonderful testament" to his team, telling the Oxford Mail that the grass had been grown long and left unwatered.

Brandon Hanlan is challenged by Oxford's Rob Dickie on Saturday Picture: Ady Kerry
Brandon Hanlan is challenged by Oxford's Rob Dickie on Saturday Picture: Ady Kerry

It was a plan Oxford United boss Robinson felt was used to disrupt his team's passing game, something Evans refuted.

In response to the criticism, the Gills boss said: "I think he has a point to be fair!

"Karl is off his head at times, in a good way, he is a great guy, but I was just surprised he was here, I thought he was going to be in charge of Malaga in Spain (he was linked to a job there last week).

"The grass wasn't long, it was just that the pitch isn't the best and we know that, but there are a lot of factors for that one. We are not knocking anyone though, because everyone works hard.

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"He wasn't right to have said we did it deliberately but then Karl said they dominated the second half. I thought Karl's head was 80% of the time looking towards the Rainham End where we were attacking in the second half.

"The pitch just isn't in the condition that it should be but he didn't mention that to me, only that he wanted to fight Paul Raynor (the Gills assistant manager). Rayns vs Karl. I would fancy Rayns!"

Speaking after the match on Saturday, Robinson said: "It's not very often teams do that to us with the pitch.

"That's the way football is – I said to the players what a wonderful testament to us that is.

"It certainly helped Gillingham when Nathan Holland went through in the first half and the ball bobbled. The same with Marcus Browne. They were saying they couldn't get the ball out of their feet.

"It was very dry early on, which stopped us from playing, but I think we still tried to play and stuck to our guns."


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