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Gillingham manager Steve Evans on Norwich midfielder Dan Adshead's positive response, John Akinde's return and Gerald Sithole's first league start

Gillingham boss Steve Evans was pleased with the response from loan midfielder Dan Adshead after being dropped to the bench.

The 20-year-old Norwich City player came on for the last 20 minutes at Oxford. He had been left out of the starting line-up after Evans admitted he had been overawed during the midweek game against Charlton.

Dan Adshead came off the bench for Gillingham on Saturday after being dropped from the eleven Picture: Andy Jones
Dan Adshead came off the bench for Gillingham on Saturday after being dropped from the eleven Picture: Andy Jones

Adshead was subbed at the break against Charlton, along with QPR loan striker Charlie Kelman.

“He came out (of the eleven) but he had to come out,” said Evans, following the 1-1 draw at Oxford. “He is a top player. He is young and under the lights in midweek it just got to him a little bit. Charlie the same.

“Dan Adshead controlled the middle when he came on. He won some challenges, a couple of headers and he got on the ball. We looked a lot more composed when we had him on the pitch.

“It was nothing against Olly Lee (who he replaced), he is an attack-minded player, he wants to go forward all the time. We made the changes and it largely worked for us.”

Kelman remained unused as Evans picked John Akinde from the bench.

Akinde ended the game by having a heated exchange with several Gills fans in the away end but Evans had no issues with the player.

He said: “We tried to win the game. You don’t bring on John Akinde if you are not trying to win the game. We brought John Akinde on for a bit of power and pace. I thought he worked incredibly hard.

“We were desperate to get Charlie on at the end (on Saturday) but we actually said we might need Vadaine (Oliver) to score us a goal with a header or win a defensive header.”

Evans handed Gerald Sithole his first league start on Saturday and he came off for Akinde on the hour.

Speaking about Sithole’s performance, Evans said: “It was quite interesting when I took him off. I thought we lost our shape a bit because he gave us a nice balance on the right. It was only tiredness second half and he got caught a couple of times and we had to change it. His legs were wobbling a bit.

“The only time he didn’t believe in himself was when we counter-attacked second half. Kyle Dempsey makes a real intelligent run to take two defenders away, he is one on one and he almost gets it stuck under his feet. I said to him what would you have done on the training ground? He said, ‘I would knock it by and go because I am quicker than him’ and that is what he should have done. Even if he then misses we can live with that but I am really pleased for him.”

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