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Mansfield 2 Gillingham 0: Reaction from Gills manager Neil Harris after League 2 defeat

Gillingham boss Neil Harris admitted they were second best to Mansfield on Saturday - a team they aspire to be just like.

Harris’ side remain in the League 2 drop-zone after the weekend loss - their first in five - while the victors sit sixth in the table and not too far off the automatic promotion places.

“Mansfield were excellent,” said the Gills boss. “They are a team that are pushing for the top three, where we want to be, playing the way we want to play.

“They are a good football team that can pass the ball but can also play forward and run forward, and I thought over the course of 90 minutes they were slightly better than us.

“On my own team, second half much better, first half I thought we made poor decisions on the ball. League 2 is a lot about the boxes and in the first half we weren’t good enough in both boxes.”

The Gills conceded to a deflected Ollie Clarke opener on 21 minutes and a second from the penalty spot when Max Ehmer’s tug at the shirt of Lucas Akins was penalised.

“It was a really cheap penalty,” Harris said. “I spoke to the referee, he has given it against Max for pulling the shirt. He agreed that maybe it was a soft one to give but he thought at the time it was a foul so he should give it. Max thought, as did their player and as do I, it was six of one and half a dozen of the other, but he has given it.”

Gills had shouts for one of their own as George Lapslie went to ground in the box but nothing was given.

Harris said: “Had he given it that might have been a bit soft but you can’t make the rules up as you go along on what is soft and what is not and we came out on the wrong side of those two decisions.”

It wasn’t the deciding factor in the game, however, as the Gills came up short in the first half. From 2-0 down they struggled to come back, even with an improved second 45 and a flurry of subs.

“I am disappointed with the performance, I have to be honest,” Harris said. “But the group has been fantastic for four weeks, we have had 10 points from four games before this one, I am careful what I say about my squad because until now they have been excellent and for us the key to us being better, we have to be better than we were in that first half.

“I thought about changing it at half-time, 2-0 down away from home, we hadn’t played great and we didn’t look as fluid as we had been in the last four or five, I felt that maybe we needed to change, but I went with a little respect to the group, the lads have been brilliant for me.

“George (Lapslie) and Aiden (O’Brien) are getting up to speed, minutes wise as well and I just thought, let’s have a platform for the next 10 minutes to try and build off, get on the front foot with our approach and then add the fresh energy and legs. We didn’t quite have the chances to create until I made the subs and I thought the three lads who came on, with a triple change, did really well.”

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