Published: 18:00, 14 September 2019
| Updated: 08:49, 15 September 2019
Manager Steve Evans spoke of his immense pride after a midweek virus threatened to scupper his team's hopes of beating Wycombe.
Alfie Jones, Tom O’Connor, Ollie Lee, Alex Jakubiak, Brandon Hanlan, Regan Charles-Cook, Ouss Cisse and Ben Pringle all picked up the virus but most managed to play a part in the 2-0 victory over the previously unbeaten visitors.
Scroll down to hear the reaction of the Gillingham boss
“I was extremely pleased,” said the Gills manager.
“There were maybe six out there that in most other weeks you wouldn’t ask them to be out on the football pitch, because we have had a terrible virus kick in since midweek. Three or four of those players started.
“People like Regan Charles-Cook would have been in the team but wasn’t even in the 18, Jakubiak our top goalscorer was on the bench but we had no intention of bringing him on unless we had two strikers injured or something.
“It was a real credit to the players, we battled hard against a good team, an excellent manager and you know what you are going to get, you have to earn the right to win by fighting and battling and then the two pieces of quality from Hanlan and Ndjoli got us infront.
“Olly Lee, who was on his sickbed until Friday night, produced his one bit of quality, to get the penalty and Mika sticks it away (to make it 2-0). I am immensely proud of the dressing room.”
The Gills boss didn’t finalise his starting XI until two hours before kick off following a meeting with his medical staff. Even the fitness coach had been ill.
He said: “Tom had felt better on the Friday and he ate for the first time (since the illness) then. He hadn’t been in since Tuesday. We needed him and asked if he could play and he said he would give everything he had. The kid was on his knees on 75 minutes and was tremendous.
“Regan only got the symptoms on Friday and was up all night, he didn’t want to miss the game, he wanted to watch it. He’s one of the family and I told him to hide away and watch it somewhere.
“With young Alex, we said we didn’t have any more options and asked if he would go on the bench for us. He picked up the bug on Thursday and was just getting over it.”
Despite the difficult week, two second half goals were enough to win the game.
Evans said: “We have always said it is a squad, people grab opportunities.
“Mikael has a big following, home and away, there are millions of them, I said to him, they would be disappointed because he hasn’t been starting but they would have had a great drive home on Saturday.
“Those friends of Mikael Ndjoli who haven’t heard form him for a month, he will be messaging to all of them now! He deserved it and he has been working incredibly hard this week and I said to the players, ‘you get into the team by working hard’.”
In a game of few chances, the Gills needed a bit of quality to get them through.
“The two pieces of quality came when the two goals were scored,” Evans said.
“Brandon does fantastic and Mika finishes it off brilliantly (for the opener).
"On the second one, Olly, who didn’t get involved in the game as much as we would have liked - in fairness the kid probably shouldn’t have played-but it’s a piece of magic when he megs the boy in the box and he gets through on goal (before being fouled for a penalty).
“Olly was meant to take it, Rayns (the assistant) is going off his head, but we have always said about if someone feels really confident or someone is tired, and Olly had been ill, and Mika stuck it away well.”
More by this authorLuke Cawdell
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