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Carlisle United 1 Gillingham 0: Reaction from Gills boss Neil Harris after their League 2 defeat

Gillingham manager Neil Harris warned his team of what was to come moments before Carlisle United hit what turned out to be the winner.

The Gills had edged the first 45 minutes at Brunton Park without having the killer touch to make it count and Harris knew there would be a fightback from the hosts. Carlisle started the second half strongly and scored a scrappy goal that turned out to be the difference between the sides.

Report: Carlisle 1 Gillingham 0

“First half we were the better team,” said the Gills boss, after their fourth defeat of the season.

“It was a scrappy first half, we limited Carlisle to one cross in the box, they got a free header and we could have done better with that but other than that we gave them nothing, away from home, for 45 minutes.

“We got into really good areas but probably didn’t use the ball well enough, certainly didn’t use our set-plays as well as we should have done, but we were the team in the ascendency, we were the better team first half, but we knew there would be a reaction.

“We warned the players because the (home) fans got on their backs at half-time, we knew there would be a response.”

Harris warned his team, which wasn’t short of experience anyway, but could only watch as the hosts came at them, as expected.

“You have to let the leadership take over,” he said. “You have to let the mind of the players take over, so they say ‘right how do we manage this game now?’

“On the pitch I had Glenn Morris, Max Ehmer, Stuart O’Keefe, Ben Reeves, Mikael Mandron, Jordan Green is not a kid, Cheye Alexander, David Tutonda, there was experience on the pitch to manage it.

“Sometimes you have to say ‘well done’ to the opponent, they played on the front foot and all they did was get the ball forward quickly, same as Tranmere did, that is all they did, they didn’t cut us open with any clever play and you have to stand up to it and manage the situation.

“If we had managed it better and not conceded a really soft goal then the game finishes 0-0 or we go and nick it. You warn the players because I knew what we coming.

“For the first 15 minutes we didn’t live with their tempo, we have to be better as a group, they ran forward quicker than us, were more aggressive against us, we just have to deal with that situation through better game management.”

Jon Mellish took credit for the goal but the last touch came off Gills defender Max Ehmer, with the ball being diverted past keeper Morris.

Substitutes Scott Kashket and Lewis Walker both had opportunities that came and went.

Harris said: “We changed it, put attacking players on, we tried to get back into the game and created two or three good opportunities, but that killer touch, that moment of magic, the luck, the set-play, whatever it is, (the goals) have not materialised again.

“Lewis had two headers and certainly the second one he should score, he is very good at attacking crosses, he should certainly have hit the target. Kash also got through.

“I thought the corner at the end summed us up really, we had a two versus one (in Gillingham’s favour) and we don’t get the ball in the box from a better area.

“Carlisle had that bit of luck where the ball ricochets into the back of the net and we certainly aren’t getting that at the moment, I will watch it back and see a scrappy League 2 game, where we probably play the best football but we have lost and ultimately we have come out on the wrong side of a result that at the very worst should be a 0-0.”

Gillingham ended the afternoon fourth from bottom in League 2 after six games.

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