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Swindon Town 3 Gillingham 3: Reaction from Gills boss Neil Harris as hosts fight back to claim a point at the County Ground

Gillingham couldn’t hold onto their two-goal lead at Swindon but manager Neil Harris was just pleased they got a point.

The Gills were leading 3-1 after just 13 minutes but Swindon fought back and only a top save from Glenn Morris denied them a winner in the last minute. Harris was just glad his side had continued to show signs of improvement.

Gillingham striker Tom Nichols being held back against Swindon
Gillingham striker Tom Nichols being held back against Swindon

Report: Swindon 3-3 Gillingham

He said: “I am delighted to get a point on the road again, it’s another point gained, another point that pushes us in the right direction, three games unbeaten, seven points out of nine, three goals scored, that’s seven in three games - we scored seven in 23 before that.

“It is a massive step, my only disappointment was our decision making in the second half was really poor, the referee’s decision making in the second half was even worse, (the team’s) decision making probably led to the second and third goals, but it is a point gained.

“Sometimes you can throw away a two-goal lead but I don’t think we necessarily threw it away, I think Swindon earned it, we played a bit too deep at times and never got quite onto the ball as I had hoped but overriding feeling is I am pleased with the point.”

The Gills were a goal down in less than a minute but fought back as Timothee Dieng headed in to level, Will Wright tucked home from the penalty spot and Tom Nichols scored a third.

“It was great response,” Harris said. “You fear the worst when you are a goal down against such a dominant side at home, (and you ask) ‘how are we going to respond?’ That is a pleasing aspect for me after the game is that we bounced straight back up the other end and we scored three quick goals.

“We responded in the right manner, made the correct decisions, and the shape was really good, then flip it the other way, that was my disappointment in the second half, we made some really strange, poor decisions, that I don’t want to see from my team again.

“Decisions like not clearing the ball when we should do, to step out and press the wrong player at the wrong time, little things that might not be noticed by 11,000 people in the stadium but what I can see clear as day from 90 yards away, and they are the little things that if my players want to develop and be better and go up the levels they need to make better decisions.”

Gillingham owner Brad Galinson enjoyed the match
Gillingham owner Brad Galinson enjoyed the match

Swindon finished with 10 men when Saidou Khan was dismissed for a second caution on 81 minutes. The Gills then had chances to win it themselves before the home side broke, only for Morris to deny them on a one-versus-one situation.

Harris said: “As soon as the red card came we made the change, went back to two centre forwards and getting more pressure on the ball, maybe I should have got more legs on the pitch, but we gave the chance away, Glenn makes the save and we go back to the decision making.

“We are playing 11 versus 10 and we can’t get countered on, that is what I told the players, they have to learn and I have to show them on the video, that can’t happen again.

“There was the scramble at the end, a couple of balls into the box, we just needed a bit more quality from the players to put the ball in like Alex Macdonald showed us in the first half, then we win the game.”

There were two penalties in the game, both awarded for handball in similar situations. Harris felt the referee got it wrong when awarding one against the Gills.

He said: “I have reviewed it and spoken to a senior official who has refereed in the Premier League and his opinion is that there is no way it’s a penalty.

“The rules have changed, he has hit it like a train from a foot away from Will Wright, how can he get out of the way? There is no way he can get out the way, it’s not a penalty in a million years, his arm is in a natural position to block a shot.

“The referee is at the level for a reason and wasn’t strong enough to ignore the right decision he made in the first half, by rewarding us a penalty. But we can’t do anything about it. Seven points from three games is all that matters and we move onto Crawley (at home next Saturday).”

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