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Gillingham 2 Leyton Orient 1: Manager Neil Harris’ reaction after EFL Trophy victory

It was a pleasing night for Gillingham manager Neil Harris on Tuesday.

His team came from behind to beat Leyton Orient 2-1 in the EFL Trophy at Priestfield.

Manager Neil Harris was pleased to see his side get back to winning ways Picture: Barry Goodwin
Manager Neil Harris was pleased to see his side get back to winning ways Picture: Barry Goodwin

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Harris said: “We took the competition seriously, picked a really strong side and I wanted players to gain confidence as well as minutes and it was a really good performance, a really pleasing night.

“Minutes played for people was key and it’s not something I am going to do continually, changing the team, but it was our ninth game in four weeks and it is important we keep people fresh and protect people, especially with the injuries we’ve got at the moment.

“Minutes were good and it was nice to get some of the B team lads on. I have been very clear that they are not ready but it’s important at times that we just keep them involved in the group, they do a lot of training around the first team, we can make sure they get exposure as well, from that sense it was important.

“At times we were really good, first half we could have been infront had we played slightly better, twice in the first 15 minutes we had an overload and we didn’t quite get the end product.

“We are playing against a really good side that walked our league (last season) and they then found a bit of rhythm.”

Orient went ahead in the first half when George Moncur’s shot went in off goalkeeper Glenn Morris after hitting the post.

The Gills played better after the restart and red cards for Orient’s Shaq Forde and Brandon Cooper left Harris’ men up against a team of nine.

Already in the ascendancy, the Gills punished the O’s with senior players like Jonny Williams and Connor Mahoney excelling.

Williams was only denied by a super save but when Mahoney was fouled in the box, Cheye Alexander dispatched the penalty. Another moment from Mahoney led to the winner, when defender Omar Beckles turned a cross into his own net.

On the big moments in the match, Harris said: “First red card, 100%. He (Forde) swings an arm. Second one, not so sure, it looked like a tangle, did he leave his boot in? What I will say is the referee was a lot closer than I was.

“The penalty, I think Connor has done brilliant, got the wrong side of him and there is contact, I think it’s a foul, yes.”

Orient had plenty of the ball first half but Harris was pleased his side still got in on goal a few times, before making a better fist of it after the break.

He said: “There were moments in the first half, it is difficult. These games give you an opportunity to try and develop players and in the first half we looked to try and play total football, and If we are going to do that at certain times, then people have to be patient and understand that we will turn the ball over.

“Second half we flipped it a bit and went more direct, we asked a few more questions and we were very good at that. The players are just following instructions.

“The important thing was that we got through unscathed, we got back to winning ways and we integrated some of the B team lads into the first team, so it was a really important evening for us and puts us in a good position going into Saturday (at home to Harrogate in the league).

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