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Gillingham 0 Bradford 2: Reaction from Gills boss Neil Harris after League 2 defeat at Priestfield

Gillingham manager Neil Harris admitted Tuesday night was a bit of a wake-up call for his newly rebuilt team.

The January signings have helped pull them clear of relegation trouble but competing with the top sides in League 2 is another challenge. They lost 2-0 at home to a Bradford side who are chasing promotion.

“It was a little bit of a wake up call for us wasn’t it?” Harris said.

“As great as we have done, we have competed like mad in every game and just come out on top in most of them, but the goals conceded were really poor and Bradford were better than us.

“They looked like a team that is set, recruited well over a few windows and in the key moments they just had a little bit more composure than us.”

The Gills went a goal down midway through the second half as visiting captain Richie Smallwood outfoxed defender Cheye Alexander and added another early in the second half when centre-half Max Ehmer lost possession to a striker who doesn’t waste gifts. Bradford's Andy Cook ran in on goal to make it 2-0 which is how it ended.

Harris said: "First half we were slightly better in open play, but we conceded a really poor goal, the full-back can’t get done like that, then just when we want to get going second half we shoot ourselves in the foot and Andy Cook, who is by far the best striker I have seen this season in the division had it given it to him on a plate really.

"The centre halves have got to do better, two poor goals, but we didn’t really test their goalkeeper, I can’t complain about the result."

Harris continued: “If you can’t win games by creating the chances then please don’t give the opposition a leg-up by giving poor goals away but I know it is the level, it’s League 2 and a lot of goals are poor goals, but you have to make them work for the goals, we didn’t make them work.

“The first goal is poor defensively and the second one is just an error, Max has got to deal with the ball sensibly and then you give yourselves a mountain to climb five minutes into the second half.

“We tried to build momentum, tried to carry on that performance from Saturday and I don’t think the referee particularly helped us. I have to be honest, in the momentum stakes, but that is league 2 officiating isn’t it?

“I am not bemoaning the shape and certainly not questioning the character of the lads, not at all, they competed and had a right go, I thought at key moments we made a couple of errors and got punished.

“When you play against the best teams in the league you can’t make errors, and that is where you look and say, well players are making errors they were in the first half of the season, no, no, those days are gone, I don’t want that any more. I won’t accept it any more. I don’t need to accept it any more.

“I want us to be better between now and the end of the season and certainly moving forward in the summer, I won’t be accepting errors."

Harris made three changes to his starting team, bringing Stuart O’Keefe back in after several weeks out, as Robbie McKenzie and Tim Dieng missed the match through injury and Alex MacDonald was ill.

The Gills boss said: “I will leave it others to judge whether we missed the players that were missing.

“I am not saying Alex MacDonald is the most effective player on the pitch in every game but he gives me real character and personality on and off the pitch and we certainly missed his leadership qualities.

“Tom Nichols was a bonus to have, really pleased he came through 35 minutes. I didn’t think we would have him, he had a fitness test before the game, that is the nature of the beast, that is Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday football and we have the five games in 17 days. We are going to have to be wounded at times and ask the players to step up.

“I brought players back into the fold that hadn’t been in it for a while and maybe were a little rusty."

Harris added: “We have dragged ourselves into a healthier position and a positive mindset but we have a lot of road to cover infront of us.”

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