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Gillingham 2 Morecambe 1: Reaction from Gills boss Neil Harris after League 2 win at Priestfield

Gillingham manager Neil Harris felt his side should have been out of sight in the first half on Saturday.

Harris felt their opening-half display against Morecambe was better than anything he’s seen since being in charge of the Gills, let down only by a sloppy goal that gave the visitors hope.

Neil Harris’ side went back to the top of League 2 on Saturday
Neil Harris’ side went back to the top of League 2 on Saturday

Report: Gillingham 2 Morecambe 1

He said: “I’m delighted to have won the game and thought we were miles better than the opponent, really disappointed with the goal conceded, a really poor goal, but the first half was the best half of football I’ve been in charge of at the football club.

“We absolutely dominated the first 45 minutes and should have been four or five up, comfortably, with the chances we created and positions we got into.

“Ultimately, we didn’t go and get three, four or five (goals) because we conceded a really sloppy goal.”

The Gills led after 10 minutes through George Lapslie but conceded immediately. Harris’ men responded to restore their lead with a fine Connor Mahoney effort to make it 2-1. That’s the way it ended.

Harris said: “I am really, really happy but I will always say there is stuff to work on, we have had a clean sheet mentality, today was a real poor goal to give away, certainly work in progress for two young centre-halves.”

Lapslie scored the opener from close-range from a training ground move, with Ethan Coleman heading back across goal a Mahoney corner.

It was Mahoney’s good feet and fine finish which made it 2-1 on 25 minutes.

Harris said: “We only set them up and then it’s down to the players to deliver and they did, credit to the players.

“The delivery (for the first goal) was excellent, the movement was good and George gets in the right position, as George does 10-12 times a season, when fit.

“(The response to conceding) is important for us. In the two league defeats we’ve had when we have gone behind, against Colchester we responded brilliantly and should have got back level but we didn’t and then the game ran away from us, Grimsby we didn’t respond after conceding.

“When we concede we have to react in the right way, so that it doesn’t stop us playing. The biggest thing for me was that the crowd had just got up, we’d scored and completely dominated then we give an horrific goal away but it didn’t stop us.

“The crowd got back up again and the players started moving the ball again, it takes bravery at any level, certainly in League 2 to be able to do that, that was a really pleasing aspect for me.”

George Lapslie celebrates the opening goal at Priestfield Picture: @Julian_KPI
George Lapslie celebrates the opening goal at Priestfield Picture: @Julian_KPI

The second half was a different story, with the Gills in control, but without that same zip.

Harris said: “I thought we turned the ball over too cheaply, too often.

“Morecambe were going to react, they weren’t in the game first half, they scored a goal but had nothing else, no efforts.

“We knew they would be slightly better, a team that want to play football, we stopped them first half, we knew they would have the ball but didn’t create any chances.

“We looked like a team that was professional, organised and structured but didn’t really go after the throat of the opponent second half like we did the first half. That wasn’t an instruction, that was just how the game petered out with being 30 degree pitchside.

“Again, the pitch got slower, so they are not excuses, just the reality of it, then we put the two centre forwards (Nichols and Nadesan) on because even though we were in front we wanted to get back on the front foot and be aggressive, we looked it straight away and then the red card (for Morecambe striker Michael Mellon) helped us get over the line.

“Second half, attacking the away end with nobody in it, the work was done first half, we looked like a team that had done the work in the first half and then we didn’t have the Rainham End to get us going again, to attack it, but all in all, it’s a brilliant result and we’re in a fantastic position (at the top of League 2).”

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