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Gillingham 0 Rotherham United 2: Match highlights and reaction from Gills boss Neil Harris after relegation from League 1

Gillingham manager Neil Harris admitted the same old issues he inherited hurt them on the last day as they suffered relegation.

His team needed a result against Rotherham United at Priestfield but a 2-0 defeat saw them slip out of League 1 on goal difference.

Report: Gillingham 0 Rotherham 2

Harris has been in the job since January 31 and took the team from 10 points adrift to within a chance of survival on the last day, but the team fell just short.

Suggesting it was a good attempt on the day, Harris responded: “A good attempt sums it up since February 1. Before that it has been nowhere near it has it?

“Ultimately, I am the manager of the football club and I take responsibility on behalf of the football club for letting our fans down this season.

“The standards, the professionalism, the recruitment, it hasn’t been good enough, and we have paid the price.

Ben Thompson hits the crossbar for Gillingham Picture: KPI
Ben Thompson hits the crossbar for Gillingham Picture: KPI

“We made some quick gains, we have been relegated on goal difference, with 40 points, we haven’t got to 45-46, or 47 points, which you normally need in this division, so we have gone as far as we can.

“Do I look back at individual games and think, ‘should I have changed shape there, should I have done that slightly quicker?’ Of course I do, because I care, I look at myself in the mirror before analysing anyone else in the stadium.

“The games we have thrown away have, in my opinion, come from individual errors. Did you see Rotherham making an individual error? No. Did we? Yeah, have we? Yeah. That comes with you get what you pay for.”

It was from a corner that Rotherham scored their first on Saturday and in the second half when the Gills opened up in search of a way back in, the visitors quickly scored a second.

Gillingham striker Vadaine Oliver crowded out Picture: KPI
Gillingham striker Vadaine Oliver crowded out Picture: KPI

Harris, commenting on the opening goal, said: “First contact, second ball, shambles. Again, Cheltenham away, same, first contact and second contact. Portsmouth, free header, not good enough, take responsibility. We lacked leadership.”

Harris had called for more leadership in the week, after that 3-1 loss at Portsmouth. He managed to name captain Stuart O’Keefe in the team despite his injury problems and the skipper lasted the 90.

Asked if he got the character he wanted, he said: “I saw it because my captain was on the pitch for 90 minutes. Did i see it elsewhere? Little bits, people lead in their own way don’t they? Ben Thompson leads with drive and energy and bravery. That’s it, isn’t it?”

It was Thompson who almost got the Gills back into the game. Losing 1-0, he hit the crossbar in first half stoppage-time.

Max Ehmer goes close for Gillingham in the first half Picture: KPI
Max Ehmer goes close for Gillingham in the first half Picture: KPI

Harris said: “We hit the underside of the bar, that is the fine lines between staying up and going down.

“I knew what the scores were from half-time onwards, I knew there were only a couple of minutes when Bolton weren’t winning (against Gills’ relegation rivals Fleetwood) second half, a draw would have been enough.

“I knew at 1-0 a goal would keep us up but the moment we opened up, properly opened up, we concede again, it is an individual error. It has been the story hasn’t it?

“Individually we make errors. I have wanted to play a back four since the day I walked through the door but I can’t play a back four because we just concede goals.

“Any time in any game we have adjusted to open up a little bit we have been punished. I have to have faith, I have to have trust in my players. They are great lads, really nice lads, but what does nice get you? Last place.”

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