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Gillingham 0 Newport County 2: League 2 match reaction from interim manager Keith Millen

Gillingham interim manager Keith Millen admitted he was surprised at the lack of fightback from his team in the second half against Newport.

The Gills gave away two first-half penalties, both scored by Omar Bogle, which set the home side back, but they still had chances with Macauley Bonne having a one-on-one chance saved and Connor Mahoney striking the crossbar.

Interim manager Keith Millen took charge again but it wasn’t a good day for Gillingham Picture: @Julian_KPI
Interim manager Keith Millen took charge again but it wasn’t a good day for Gillingham Picture: @Julian_KPI

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“It was a tough one to get my head around,” said the stand-in boss, after the 2-0 defeat.

“I wasn’t expecting that performance or result and it’s difficult to digest, certainly on the back of the last two good performances.

“They changed their shape and went to a 5-3-2, which they have not done before, and we hadn’t worked on it or expected it that. That threw us a little bit.

“We had done a lot of work on what their formation was supposed to be, or what we thought it would be. We didn’t quite get to grips with their shape early on in the game.

“We had some passing moves, some possession, without really looking like creating any chances.

“After about 15 minutes I was trying to get onto the pitch to say to them, it wasn’t rocket science, we had just played against a 5-3-2 on Tuesday, it was a case of telling them what they needed to do out of possession and what shape we needed to look like.”

Shad Ogie in action for Gillingham against Newport County Picture: @Julian_KPI
Shad Ogie in action for Gillingham against Newport County Picture: @Julian_KPI

The Gills were quickly two goals down. A poor back-pass from Cheye Alexander to goalkeeper Jake Turner led to the first and the same defender was penalised again seven minutes later after Newport’s Matty Bondswell went to ground. Bogle tucked both away.

Millen said: “With the first one we should play forward, then it was just a mix-up or a poor backpass and they have punished us. That first goal gives them a big lift.

“The the second one we had good possession, we looked to break out, we gave the ball away, which we were doing too often and they punished us.

That’s a shoulder to shoulder, I don’t see Cheye running into him, it was like they ran into each other. The second one is harsh.

“To go 2-0 down, and the manner of the two goals, it shakes you doesn’t it? It shook me. I wasn’t expecting it and you could see the players were like, ‘What’s going on here?’ It wasn’t how the plan was supposed to go.

“I tried to get some composure back into us and we had some good chances, we should be going in at least 1-2 at half-time and if we had scored one it would given the lads at half-time.

“The lads were down, a little in shock, I think because the way the game had gone but I do feel we got our composure back a bit. We tried to play like I wanted us to play, so we could create more chances.

Ethan Coleman riding a challenge as Gillingham played Newport County Picture: @Julian_KPI
Ethan Coleman riding a challenge as Gillingham played Newport County Picture: @Julian_KPI

“What disappointed me more was probably the second half, instead of really fighting and really going for it, we seemed to lose a bit of belief, a bit of energy. In the end the game sort of drifted away.

“We made changes, tried to freshen it up, whether we were tired or not I don’t know. We tried to change the formation a little bit, just to make something happen.

“What I didn’t like is that I saw too many players walking, I didn’t see enough desire, if we had scored the next goal I think it would have been game-on.

“When you are in the position they have been in (19th in the table with four straight away defeats), on a bad run, when it gets to 2-1 it’s panic stations, but I never felt we really showed enough desire to really go for it, enough movement, certainty not enough quality.

“I don’t know where some of that (miss-placed) passing came from, it certainly wasn’t what we had worked on in training, and they are better than that. I would imagine the players will be disappointed with their lack of quality when we needed it in the second half.”

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