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Gillingham 1 Wigan Athletic 0: Manager Steve Evans delighted with hard fought win

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Gillingham manager Steve Evans’ gamble paid off against Wigan on Wednesday night.

The Gills rode their luck in the second half as Evans committed men forward when the game was goalless because he was desperate to get all three points. Vadaine Oliver headed in the winner on 76 minutes, the only goal of the game.

Jack Tucker wins a header Picture: Keith Gillard
Jack Tucker wins a header Picture: Keith Gillard

Evans said: “At one point early in the second half myself and [assistant manager] Paul Raynor had a chat and we said, ‘we have to gamble’.

“We moved players further forward up the pitch, and doing that results in the defenders being overloaded at times, and that is where Wigan’s chances came from. They never made a chance once we got the goal because we then got our shape, discipline and focus back in the team.

“My teams at Rotherham, Leeds and Crawley, promotion teams, they took chances when we had to win games. Monday at Blackpool will be no different. If we are in the game on 60-70 minute we have to try and win the game.”

Evans admitted his side weren’t at their best against Wigan but it might have been a different game had they got an early penalty after the visiting keeper had floored Oliver in the box after just four minutes.

Steve Evans chatting with opposite number Leam Richardson Picture: Keith Gillard
Steve Evans chatting with opposite number Leam Richardson Picture: Keith Gillard

The Gills boss said: “I don’t think we were anywhere near our best in terms of quality on the ball. We broke really well on the counter and it was just our final bit of quality, which is normally in abundance with the likes of Graham and Dempsey and MacDonald, it just wasn’t there.

“We should have had a penalty in the first half, it was an assault on my striker, but we went in zero, zero at half time and I said to the players, it is about getting the right pass and I gave an example about when I remembered watching Tiger Woods play golf at Augusta. He was on the 18th and had to put a four iron onto the green. He did and he got the green jacket.

“I said to the players, when the chance comes, pit that four iron on Oliver’s head and that is exactly what Ryan Jackson did.

“Before he crossed it, I glanced immediately to where Oliver was and I thought, ‘there is the four iron, there is the putter.’ Big V’s head is the putter and there it went like a bullet. He is a top player and doesn’t get a third of the fouls he should get.

“Oliver was fouled all evening, he got no support from the match referee. I am not questioning his [the referee's] honesty, he’s normally good but he was poor and it was a hard earned win for us. It was credit and testament to the group that we have got, who fight for everything.

“Thankfully a poor refereeing performance hasn’t come between us and three points.”

Report: Gillingham 1 Wigan Athletic 0

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