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Gillingham 1 Sutton United: Reaction from Gills manager Neil Harris as Alex MacDonald scores winning goal at Priestfield

Gillingham manager Neil Harris was delighted to see Alex MacDonald hit the winner for his team on Saturday.

MacDonald’s career was threatened by a serious knee injury last season, that left him facing almost a year in rehab, before coming back this summer to try and work his way into Harris’ first team plans. He came off the bench against Sutton United to replace injured Jordan Green and took his chance, heading in a 91st minute winner.

Gillingham's Alex MacDonald scores the winner against Sutton United Picture: KPI (59697160)
Gillingham's Alex MacDonald scores the winner against Sutton United Picture: KPI (59697160)

Report: Gillingham 1 Sutton 0

Harris said: “I am really pleased for Macca, he had a horrible injury and a tough period of trying to get up to speed, he has had to work extremely hard off the pitch, sometimes it falls natural for people to be fit and get fit and get back to their fighting weight and other people you have to be patient with them.

“Macca has worked extremely hard, he has been in the gym at 8am working hard to get back to his fighting way, to get that sharpness. For me, he still a way to go on the sharpness side of it and he knows that but that comes from game-time. I am really pleased for him and the reason he scores is because he reads the game well, where he might have lacked that pace, he reads the game and understands it.”

It was a saved shot from man-of-the-match Scott Kashket that led to MacDonald pouncing on the loose ball as keeper Lewis Ward parried.

Kashket had earlier twice been flagged for offside, leading to two goals being ruled out by the officials. Ryan Law was also denied a goal for a foul by Mikael Mandron in the buildup to his effort hitting the net, leading Harris to wonder if it was ever going to be their day.

He said: “I don’t know if I have been in a game where I have had three disallowed goals in a half, we were getting in the right positions, that’s for sure, the fact we had three disallowed showed we were creating chances, by hook or crook.

“I thought we were better all round, credit to my players, they have worked hard on the training pitch, like they always do. I have to make sure I don’t work them too hard so we get a balance but they have done a lot of learning in the week to play against a Sutton side that are really good at what they do, good around restarts and second balls and the way they play, they can play a bit as well. The players stood up to it which they didn’t do for 45 minutes against Mansfield (losing 2-0 to them last time at Priestfield). We learned from that for sure.

Gillingham players celebrate the injury-time goal against Sutton Picture: KPI (59697157)
Gillingham players celebrate the injury-time goal against Sutton Picture: KPI (59697157)

“We stood up to the threat of the attacking play, the aerial threat, I felt we had a moment in us because I had seen it in the first half, the only time we didn’t look a threat was when we lacked composure and that comes back to confidence and belief. That waned a bit towards the end of the first half, [but we] came out second half, a couple of the boys put their foot on the ball and made a few passes, that galvanised everyone, we saw at Priestfield the fans get behind the boys, it was a strong performance.

“When Will Wright’s shot is saved, Kash’s shot is saved by the keeper, I thought it might not come for us, I would have been sitting there saying we couldn’t do more to win a game of football with three disallowed and a couple off the line, but we did, we found a moment. The subs made an impact which is key, Alex and Lewis (Walker) when they came on, that is what you want and maybe we have not had that enough so far.

“We were due that moment of fortune at the end, for that ricochet to fall to us, because we have had to many tight games that we have fallen just the wrong side of.”

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