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Portsmouth 3 Gillingham 1: Reaction from Gills manager Neil Harris

Gillingham manager Neil Harris blamed poor defending for their defeat at Portsmouth.

Relegation-threatened Gills lost the match 3-1 at Fratton Park and there was controversy with the second one, when Harris felt an offside in the build-up wasn’t given and the referee played too much time at the end of the half. His protests led to him being sent off but there was more to the match than that.

Harris’ side conceded the first goal after just four minutes.

“We conceded a terrible first goal,” he said. “When you come to Fratton Park, leading up to the game we talk game about strong mentality, professionalism, managing the game, giving nothing away, frustrate the fans, frustrate Portsmouth, then we concede a goal after three minutes and it is a really poor goal as well. Both wing-backs were really poor with it.

“We then get a foothold in the game, we had got it slightly wrong in our shape after the first 15 minutes, but we made an adjustment, then for the next 15-20 minutes we are the better team and we score a very good equaliser and we are in the ascendency. You think, ‘just get to half-time'. To concede like we did, such a poor goal and ultimately it is why we are where we are in the division.

“We have given so many poor goals away over the course of the season, not necessarily in my tenure, but over the course of the season individual mistakes have cost us. The second and the third goals were just horrific in my eyes, there is no sugar-coating it.

“I protect my players but individually we have to do better. Chasing at 2-1, I fancied us to still get something out of the game, at 3-1, it was very tough and I thought we lacked character, we lacked belief, lacked leadership on the pitch without the captain second half and I need more from my group, I need more, certainly to be successful in the next seven days, I am going to need more.”

Ryan Jackson looks to beat his man Picture: KPI
Ryan Jackson looks to beat his man Picture: KPI

Harris admitted he might have overstepped the mark when complaining about the second goal which got him a red card.

“I have to accept the punishment and I apologise to my group, I need to lead by example, but all i was trying to do was get the referee’s attention by getting him over to explain to me why he played 92 seconds rather than 60 seconds and why in the buildup an offside decision wast given to us.

“I went into see the referee (after the game), it was a very calm conversation I have asked for an explanation, he has given a very PR answer, but he has got it wrong.

“I said to him, ‘we have worked together for a long tine, did he need to show me a red card when he could have just told me why something has happened?’ I can’t change that now.

“It was the goal on half-time that hurt us massively, another avoidable goal, did I overstep them mark, maybe? Did the referee get it wrong, definitely, but we can’t concede goals like that, we have to defend so much better and ultimately we have lost the game because we have defended really poorly.”

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