Manager Neil Harris has explained why he chose Jake Turner to start the new season in goal for Gillingham.
Former Newcastle United goalie Turner was no.2 to player-of-the-season Glenn Morris last season but has stuck with it. His continuing improvement led to a starting role in the season opener at Stockport on Saturday. The Gills won the game 1-0.
Turner repaid his manager with a clean sheet and a dominant display in goal, thwarting several gilt-edged chances by his presence, as Kyle Knoyle crashed an effort off the bar and Jayden Richardson hit the side-netting late on under pressure from the stopper.
There was also a super block to deny Macauley Southam-Hales in the first half from a powerful header.
“It was a really tough call,” said Harris, when asked about his decision to pick between his two keepers.
“I’ve got two no.1s. It is not often I have been in that position as a manager.
“I didn’t feel like I was in that position last summer with Jake, I thought he grew with those 17-18 games he played with us last year, he grew with a year of training and the expectation which I asked of him as a goalkeeper.
“I thought at Salford, last game of the season, he was outstanding, he was a man in goal and let’s not forget, eight weeks ago Glenn Morris was named our player-of-the-year and deservedly so.
“It was a real tough, tough call. I just felt that Jake had had the better of pre-season. Glenn had a few niggles, but that is not underestimating what Glenn Morris brings to our football club and how good he still is.”
Harris used Turner for most of the cup football last season and may switch keepers on Tuesday when Southampton visit Priestfield for the League Cup first round.