Home   Medway   Sport   Article

Reaction: Bradford City 2 Gillingham 2 – manager Neil Harris reacts to their League 2 draw at Valley Parade

Gillingham boss Neil Harris felt their magnificent first half performance should have been enough to finish Bradford off.

The Gills only managed a single goal during one of their best 45 minutes of football this season and that opened the door for a Bradford fightback after the break. The home side netted twice to lead but Oli Hawkins rescued a point for Harris’ men in the 97th minute as an enthralling contest ended two apiece.

Report: Bradford 2 Gillingham 2

“First half was magnificent, excellent,” said Harris. “We should have been three or four up at half-time, we pressed the ball, our shape, the way we contained them, the way we dealt with (their leading goalscorer) Andy Cook, turnover of possession, using the ball so well in good areas and creating chance after chance.

“Ultimately we should have been well clear at half-time, the game should have been dead and buried.

“What we knew was that Bradford would react at half-time, a team that is trying to get promoted, always going to respond and put you under pressure.”

Timotheee Dieng scored Gills’ opener and had at least one other good chance to find the net. Numerous other opportunities came and went during that first half.

Mark Hughes’ men hit back after the break with Cook heading in an equaliser and then scoring from the penalty spot. The Gills weren’t finished, however. Tom Nichols had a number of chances before substitute Hawkins converted from a Cheye Alexander corner with seconds remaining.

“We could have stood up a little bit stronger mentally than we did,” the manager said, after watching their lead disappear. “I thought we brought a bit of that on ourselves. That is certainly an area that has to improve for next season.

“When we went behind we had the desire and the drive to get back in it and even then I thought Nico could have had a hat-trick, a 20-yarder and a couple of other chances that I think he should score with and he will be disappointed he hasn’t scored. On balance of play and chances created we deserved at least a point.

“I am delighted and I learned a lot about my players, learned what a good team we can be. First and foremost there were two excellent teams, two really good sides with real good quality who could have scored more goals and that’s not because defensively the teams were poor, it was that there was real good quality on the pitch.

“I thought we forced turnovers, we forced errors, we played some really good football, created some really good chances, we could have scored five or six, or eight really good goals.

“I am pleased with the point, pleased the fans haven’t gone home empty-handed because it is a long way to come. For me, looking forward to next season, I have got to make sure the mentality is slightly better.”

Bradford’s 84th minute penalty came from Robbie McKenzie’s challenge on Scott Banks. Harris couldn’t argue with the decision.

“At the time I thought it was a penalty,” he said. “I thought it was a really poor decision by Robbie, a tired decision. I talk about mentality and these are the areas.

“I have not bemoaned anyone, it’s not the time for that, not the time for judging anyone, that comes at the end of the season, it is just those areas we need to improve on in the group ahead of next year.

“I look at their first goal, we gave the ball away cheaply and we should defend better in our box to stop the ball going in. The penalty is an error of judgement. In the two games (against Bradford) we have given away four really poor goals away, which hasn’t happened too often this season.”

Harris was complimentary about Bradford pre-match but it didn’t stop some fans having a pop.

He joked: “They really like me here, the fans, behind the dugout! I have never lost.

“It was a great moment at the end because there had been a few choice words towards my staff and players warming up, that is what happens when you go to big grounds, it’s brilliant, and you have to accept it, you give a little bit back and then it is great.

“To have the last laugh is brilliant.

“Some of the young lads like Dom (Jefferies) and Ethan (Coleman) haven’t played there before. A couple of senior lads hadn’t played here as well, players in their mid-to-late 20s and it is great for them.

“If they want to strive to be better footballers and improve themselves, with us or without us, then these are the grounds they want to be playing at every week, that’s why we want to get back into League 1. We want to be playing at the likes of Hillsborough, Derby and places like that and ultimately to achieve that you have to win football matches.”

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More