Published: 15:00, 09 May 2021
| Updated: 09:13, 10 May 2021
Gillingham boss Steve Evans was delighted with a final-day victory but ends the season with a feeling of frustration.
The Gills missed out on the play-offs by just a handful of points - the final place being taken on Sunday by Oxford United - a team Evans’ men had only recently thrown away a two-goal lead against.
A similar story against Northampton Town (a match ending 2-2 from 2-0 up) were recent blows as were draws against Shrewsbury Town and Burton Albion in recent weeks.
They ended the season with a 1-0 win over Plymouth Argyle on Sunday and Evans said: “We deserved to win the game, we had a real good bit of quality play through Robbie McKenzie and Jordan Graham to set Vadaine Oliver up (to score the only goal). It was a fantastic header to guide it into the far side.
“They had a counter attack and a passage of play midway through the second half when Jack Bonham made a couple of reactive saves but we could have scored three or four.
“Olly Lee could have had a hat-trick, on another day he does, he is normally a fantastic finisher. In fairness the goalkeeper made a fantastic save from one of them, young Tyreke Johnson should score, John Akinde should score but it’s a good win against a team that had a lot of youngsters on the bench but had a lot of strength as well from the start of the game.
“We finished 10th, we go home frustrated, I certainly go home very frustrated but I can’t thank the staff and players enough, they have given everything and more, I told them that in the dressing room.”
Seeing Oxford take the final play-off place hurt, Evans admitted.
He said: “It does hurt and it is frustrating but I take nothing away from Oxford and Karl (Robinson, their manager), I wish them every success.
“I believed had we got into the play-offs we would have won them, had we been in Karl’s position today I would have fancied us with Portsmouth at home to Accrington. (Portsmouth started the day sixth but lost 1-0 to Accrington at home)
“John Coleman (the Accrington boss) and their boys want to win and I was not sure having watched a lot of footage leading up to it, whether Portsmouth would do their jobs, but that is not my problem.
“Over the season we weren’t good enough to get ahead of Oxford but I wish them, Blackpool, Sunderland and Lincoln every success, the play-offs are magical and I am very envious, but it is very difficult to get in them and we learned a hard lesson over 10 minutes in both games (against Oxford and Northampton), that has cost us.
“I am frustrated, I will be frustrated for two or three weeks, we know what we could have achieved and we allowed our supporters to dream for a week or two but we didn’t have enough to see it through.
“I will go away and review it, as I did with my chairman earlier in the week. You think about every point dropped and goal conceded because a lot of that came towards the end of season and it is hard to take.
“At the start of the season where we had zoom meetings with other managers, with the state we were in, those managers thought it wasn’t anything other than a relegation fight for Gillingham, but I gave my word to my chairman.
“We have all have pulled in the same direction, we got through it in a pandemic year to finish 10th and look at some of the clubs around us, a couple of points away from Portsmouth and the likes of Charlton, absolutely incredible but we know what could have been, probably what should have been, but it has not happened.”