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Cambridge United 2 Gillingham 0: Gills boss Steve Evans disappointed players failed to take their chance

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Gillingham manager Steve Evans admitted their opponents wanted it more on Tuesday night.

The second half showing against Cambridge United in the EFL Trophy left him disappointed after he had given so many players a chance to stake their claim for a starting role in the league on Saturday.

Gills defender Ryan Jackson gives chase against Cambridge United's Luke Hannant. Picture: Keith Heppell (43471003)
Gills defender Ryan Jackson gives chase against Cambridge United's Luke Hannant. Picture: Keith Heppell (43471003)

With the likes of Dominic Samuel, Kyle Dempsey and Jordan Graham all struggling with knocks, there are places up for grabs at the weekend. But there wasn’t much to shout about after a 2-0 defeat that could have been more.

Evans, who had made seven changes from his weekend side in League 1, said: “There wasn’t much between the sides first half, they were cancelling each other out, but second half they wanted to win more. They were sharper to the ball, won more of it, created chances and it could have been a lot more.

“Too many players didn’t perform in the second half and work as hard as their opposite number. If you don’t work hard then you are in for a long evening and it was a long evening towards the end.

“That side was good enough to beat Cambridge but you have to match their effort, their passion and want to win. You could see what it meant to the Cambridge lads, they were shouting and bawling and screaming and singing as they went up the tunnel and credit to them.

"I have nothing but praise for a team that has that attitude, I wish a few of ours did on that pitch but they will find themselves at other clubs soon.”

Cambridge took the lead from the penalty spot after a foul by Jack Tucker but by then were already on top and had missed some good chances.

A second goal 10 minutes from time sealed it and they had numerous other chances after that. Better finishing from the U’s would have made the scoreline more emphatic.

Evans said: “Players had opportunities to stand up and show they could be in our team. Some of them worked hard and five or six others dragged them to the floor.

“It was a bad (first) goal to concede and then we are under pressure. You can’t give that penalty away, it is the worst type of defending you will see.

“The second one young Joe (Walsh, the goalkeeper) has gambled where it is going to go and he leaves three quarters of his goal empty. He is a young man learning his trade as well. Youngsters will make mistakes and they either learn from them and move on or they don’t and they leave.”

Evans was asked who did impress him, and he said: “MacDonald was courageous all night, he tried to get on the ball, I don’t think it was Trae Coyle’s type of night but he never stopped working. The service to John Akinde was poor, it could have been anyone up there (in attack).

“Drysdale had a go but Tucker beside him was poor. Jackson got up and down the pitch but other than that I am not looking at too many shining lights.”

Read more on the Gills;

Match Report: Cambridge 2 Gillingham 0

Covid scare denies youth a chance of Trophy involvement

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