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Gillingham's nightmare coach trip to Bolton for League 1 game played its part says boss Steve Evans

Boss Steve Evans admitted a horror coach journey to Bolton played its part in Gillingham’s draw on Saturday.

The Gills took nine and a half hours to make the 256-mile trip to Bolton on Friday with numerous accidents en route to the north west.

Gillingham manager Steve Evans. Picture: Andy Jones (51961063)
Gillingham manager Steve Evans. Picture: Andy Jones (51961063)

It may have been a contributory factor with Gillingham unable to hold on to what would have been a deserved three points given the clear-cut chances they created.

“I’m not defending my players but a nine and a half hour journey from Kent (on Friday night) is excessive,” said Evans. “I think our supporters probably came up in three and a half hours.

“But Friday, nine and a half hours from getting on the coach to arriving here. That was a difficult preparation, I think that’s had a factor in the last 15 minutes but the game comes down to scoring goals and missing chances.

“We missed a succession of chances throughout the game when it should have been done and dusted, it should have been done and dusted in the first half as well.”

Tired legs were a factor as Bolton piled on the pressure but Evans’ resources are stretched.

He lacked suitable options on the bench but he didn’t want that to be seen as the overriding reason behind Gillingham’s failure to hold on.

“Every point that we get we punch above our weight in this league,” he said. “I’m not getting embroiled in what our resources are but let’s just say that every point we get is a good point.

“There’s not a lot of changes we can make. We looked at the matchday programme and we’ve got players on that list that are out on loan, we’ve got three academy kids on that list.

“There’s a lot of combination factors. I think nine and a half hours on the coach from Kent is very excessive. We didn’t get the opportunity to train, we only managed to get the boys out to have a walk, that’s not the same as being thoroughly prepared and moving their legs.

“Obviously you don’t expect the traffic that we found on every bit of road we went on. That’s no-one’s fault, that’s just (half-term) traffic, accidents and we hope all those people are okay.

“Our discipline and shape in that last 20 minutes wasn’t as effective, that could be a combination of reasons, of tiredness, and give credit to Bolton (they’ve) got some really good players.”

Gillingham also missed the physicality of John Akinde in the final few minutes when he was substituted.

But Evans wants to ensure the big striker is fit and raring to go, after a much-improved performance at Bolton.

“I think it was a factor when John came off because he’s got such a physical presence,” said Evans. “They (Vadaine Oliver and Akinde) worked really well first half out of possession together, stopped their main threats if you like.

“I just said to them they didn’t do it as effectively (second half) but we need a fit and mobile John Akinde. Big John ran out of legs but it’s to be expected, because his actual (game) time has been low.

“I’m not going to be overly critical of the players because we’ve come to a difficult place, played against one of the biggest spenders in the league, with fantastic backing from the board, brilliant backing, brilliant stadium, everything’s brilliant about it. But if they’re being honest, they know they’ve got away with it.”

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