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Sutton United 0 Gillingham 1: Reaction from Gills boss Neil Harris as his side go top of League 2

Neil Harris liked what he saw as table-topping Gillingham showed a different side to their game at Sutton.

Boss Harris challenged the Gills to stand up to a physical U’s outfit and they came through with flying colours.

Gillingham manager Neil Harris. Picture: @Julian_KPI
Gillingham manager Neil Harris. Picture: @Julian_KPI

A third successive 1-0 victory on Tuesday night sent them top of the early League 2 standings and means they’re the only side in the division with their 100% record intact.

Harris’ men have demonstrated their quality in wins against Stockport, Accrington and the League Cup success against Championship outfit Southampton.

But the trip to Gander Green Lane was all about proving they have the stomach for the fight in a tough division.

“I’m delighted with the three points,” said Harris, whose team took the points with Ashley Nadesan’s 10th-minute goal.

“Not many teams in the league season win their opening three games.

“I warned everybody that they’re a really good side, really good at what they do.

“They ask a lot of questions of you in your defensive unit.

“Restarts and set-plays they’re really good – I can’t express how good they are – and they’re going to beat a hell of a lot of teams, especially here.

“We dug in and we stood up and I don’t really remember Jake Turner making too many saves.

“I don’t think we tested their goalkeeper too often but the key moments, one, I think we block in the first half from Scott Kashket, and at the other end we scored a really good goal on the counter-attack.

“We should have had another two on the counter but ultimately tonight was about standing up to the pressure Sutton put you under from restarts and set-plays and we got ourselves a clean sheet so we did the job.”

Gillingham looked assured and professional at the back to open the season with three league wins for the first time since Martin Allen delivered the League 2 title in 2012/13.

And they still haven’t conceded a goal.

“It’s three clean sheets out of three, so fair play to the group,” said Harris.

“I asked when we haven’t got the ball that we have 11 good defenders - including the centre-forwards and the goalkeeper - and that’s not just blocks and headers, that’s defensive shape and pressing triggers and the lads have done really well at it.

“A lot of League 2 games are going to be like that over the course of the season.

“Just because Stockport was a real good football match between two really good teams, and Accrington, we dominated the game, there’s going to be a lot of games like today where we’ve got to play a little bit more back to front a little bit quicker and we have to stand up to the physicality side of it and I think I’ve got a group that can do most sides of the game.

Report: Sutton 0-1 Gills

“I picked a narrow 4-4-2, I picked Dom Jefferies and George Lapslie to play narrow because I knew it was going to be a second-ball game.

“So where we lacked a little bit in width and creativity at times, that’s down to me with the team selection that I picked it to get a 1-0 win or to win the game because I knew we had to stand up to them and we did.”

Gillingham were backed by almost 1,300 travelling fans and they made plenty of noise behind the goal.

They haven’t known it this good for years with the club on the up under the ownership of Brad Galinson.

Harris said: “They’re enjoying it, the Galinson factor, and have done since January and at the moment they’re seeing their team win games of football.

“There’s not a Gillingham fan who wouldn’t have appreciated that performance tonight.

“It can’t always be about looking really good and passing the ball and controlling the game from start to finish, especially away from home, and they understand what League 2 football is.

“They’re an educated fanbase at the level so they appreciated that and at times they understand you have to be a good, solid Gillingham team and we were today.”

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