Published: 18:00, 19 January 2019
| Updated: 09:29, 20 January 2019
Gillingham boss Steve Lovell admitted his players looked ‘scared stiff’ in their match against Walsall.
The Gills conceded twice inside the opening 20 minutes and a killer third early in the second half.
It left Lovell frustrated, having expected his team to take the game to an out-of-form Walsall side.
Lovell said: “All week we work on things, the way we want to start games, the way we want to set out to play. We do it in training and it looks lovely but we come here (to Priestfield) and we freeze.
“Our players at the start of the game looked scared stiff on the ball.
“We concede early and then the supports get anxious, they start having a go at the players and it doesn’t do them any good. I can understand the frustration of supporters and it knocks the stuffing out of them (the players).
“There is no coincidence that we play all our better football away from home, where we express ourselves and play some really good stuff. We didn’t give the supporters anything to cheer and they justify their moans and groans, because it is right.
“I have said before, I am a supporter like they are, I feel the same as them. It is frustrating because you don’t know where it comes from. It has happened too many times this year.
“Is it the personnel I am picking? Is it the shape I am playing? Is it what I am trying to do with them in the week? You ask yourself these questions and I say ‘no it’s not, it’s the players’.
“I have asked them ‘is it us, are we getting it wrong?’and they go ‘no, it’s not.’ You hope that what you see in training is going to transpire on a Saturday, but it doesn’t. The buck stops with the players.
“I didn’t expect that from our boys, that is the disappointing thing. I expected us to come out all guns blazing, to be flying and having a go. That surprised me more than anything.”
All three goals were scored by Walsall striker Andy Cook and the players had been warned of what to expect.
Lovell said: “Mark Patterson (the assistant manager) spends hours going through analysis and what their strengths are from set plays, what their weaknesses are, how we can stop them scoring goals.
“We knew what Cook would do, that he peels off at the far post. What does he do? He scores two goals at the far post.
“You talk about roles and responsibilities and giving people the jobs to do but if they don’t do them that’s what happens. I said to (goalkeeper) Tomas Holy, ‘how many shots did you save?’ Perhaps there was one and that was an easy one. But he has let in three goals."
“Their keeper had more to do in the second half and we had more half opportunities than they did but we are 3-0 down.
“We kept going, we got a lot of balls in the box second half and had a couple of opportunities to score a couple of goals, but we never really deserved it.”
More by this authorLuke Cawdell