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Portsmouth 5 Gillingham 1: Reaction from interim manager Keith Millen after EFL Trophy group match at Fratton Park

The pace and power of the opposition proved too much for Gillingham in the second half on Tuesday night, said the interim manager Keith Millen.

While he felt the 5-1 scoreline was harsh on his side, which included several young players making their debuts, he conceded that the opposition were a level above.

Interim manager Keith Millen felt the 5-1 scoreline was harsh on his team Picture: Barry Goodwin
Interim manager Keith Millen felt the 5-1 scoreline was harsh on his team Picture: Barry Goodwin

More: Portsmouth 5-1 Gillingham

Mille said: “It is (harsh) but as I said to the players afterwards, we can’t ignore that we’ve conceded three goals from set-pieces which is massive in this game, at any level, for and against, they are so important.

“The manner of those three goals was disappointing and yes we’re disappointed to have conceded five, it sounds like a terrible scoreline and it hides a little bit the pleasing aspects of what we did, certainly in the first half, where we were excellent.

“Everything I asked of them, being brave on the ball, playing through the lines, end product, you could see how good they can be in possession and it was a really pleasing first half.

“Second half I felt the pace and power that they had probably was the difference a little bit. All of a sudden, when they were one versus one in the first half it looked like we could cope with it, second half they exposed us.

“It was hard second half. I am trying to manage the game with Saturday in mind, but I also wanted to continue the good work we did first half. The second half was tough, I don’t think we deserved to concede five but when you do, you can’t ignore them.”

Millen had a number of injured players that were left behind, six at the last count, which meant first senior starts for Ike Orji and Matty Macarthur. Young pro Alex Giles made his first-team debut and second-year scholar Stan Skipper also came off the bench for a first appearance.

Youngsters Sam Gale, Josh Chambers and Ronald Sithole were also involved, coming off the bench as Millen withdrew those needed for the weekend.

“The B team players have been excellent and they deserved their chance,” said the interim boss. “It is just a shame the way the game faded out and the scoreline, it was no reflection on them coming on.

“I think that shows where Portsmouth are as a club and where we are. That is no disrespect to us as a team. We want to get to where they are, we are not there yet but that is where we need to try and get to.

“I felt their athleticism showed second half, we got a bit tired, we made a lot of subs and when it is 3-1 I am thinking ‘What can I do now to prepare us for Saturday?’ It is not a nice mindset to be in during the game but in the bigger picture hopefully is that I have got a fit squad to pick from for Saturday.

“We had six injured players, what we had was what was available, it is not like we left anyone at home that was fit and available.

“I could have played all the first team players and still lost, it is about the performance, certainly in the first half. The possession, the movement I was really pleased with, it is tough to take a little bit because part of it was really good but you look at the scoreline and think, ‘Woah, what’s happened there?’ I don’t think that was a true reflection of the game.”

The Gills went behind early on but recovered well and deservedly levelled before the break through Jonny Williams, sliding the ball home after Tom Nichols had done so well to create the chance.

Sadly, the second half belonged to Pompey. Ben Stevenson curled one home from the edge of the box, Kusini Yengi headed in from a free-kick, Abu Kamara also scored from distance before Ryle Towler netted following a corner.

Portsmouth are top of League 1 and haven’t lost a game this season in all competitions.

“Their record speaks for itself doesn’t it?” Millen said.

“They were clinical. It wasn’t like they opened us up with real intricate play, but they were effective and clinical, three set-pieces and one good finish.

“They looked a bit more athletic than us as the game went on and their subs were probably more older pros than our young lads.

“It is great for our young boys to have experienced that, they are disappointed but they have to look at is as a stepping stone in their career.”

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