Tuesday’s performance from Stuart O’Keefe may have brought mixed reviews from the Gillingham manager but he knows just what an asset the midfielder is right now.
Boss Steve Evans watched the former Cardiff City and Crystal Palace man confidently convert Gills’ first-half penalty as they went into the break 1-0 up at Shrewsbury – only for a mis-cued clearance to lead to an equaliser.
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One mistake won’t change Evans’ view of the player, however.
Evans said: “Different people are making huge errors that is making it difficult for us. If the same player is making the same mistakes continually, that is easy, you put them on a train and send them to Folkestone, let them stay there for a couple of months. But when it is different players, it is concentration.
“Stuart has been terrific but I go home thinking, ‘yep, that’s two points we’ve left in Shrewsbury and a big mistake Stuart’.
“I thought he was wonderful so it’s a mixed review. He has just missed it hasn’t he, when the ball came in?
“He apologised to the group. I thought Stuart was excellent, he really was. He has found some terrific form the last two or three weeks, he was outstanding but he made a cardinal sin and if you do that on a football pitch it normally results in a goal.”
Asked why O’Keefe was on penalties, the manager quipped: “We had run out of ideas of who to give it to!”
Evans added: “Stuart had only scored one before but it was one out of one, he is composed, calm and experienced. He gives us everything and is a wonderful pro.
“He is the first player in a long time when we have walked into the dressing room to say sorry gaffer, sorry Rayns, sorry boys. He shook hands with everyone who came in because he knows his error cost us two points but I said, ‘yes, you did, but you were superb’.”