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Sheffield Wednesday 1 Gillingham 1: Reaction from Gills boss Steve Evans

Gillingham boss Steve Evans believed they would have beaten Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday had they not picked up injuries to key players.

Goalscorer Vadaine Oliver and captain Kyle Dempsey both went off injured after landing badly in separate incidents. The Gills already had a threadbare squad before the match and were forced to include teenage left-back Bailey Akehurst, making his first Football League appearance.

Watford loan midfielder Dan Phillips was also a surprise inclusion, making a return after being missing for two and a half months prior to Saturday.

Reacting to the 1-1 draw, Evans said: “I think if we keep our best players on the pitch then we win the game. I don’t think there is any doubt in it and I don’t think they will question it.

“Vadaine is a big player and he has to come off and then you have Dempsey, a player who is like (Wednesday captain) Barry Bannan, we had to take him off and we are then bringing players on who have not been involved and it is hard work for them. You then expect Wednesday to take over a bit which they did.”

Florian Kamberi equalised with 15 minutes to go after Oliver had given the Gills a 22nd minute lead.

Few would have given the Gills hope of taking anything back to Kent against a Wednesday team on the other end of the scale in League 1.

Gillingham showed battle and heart, however, something money can’t buy.

Evans said: “They have got some real quality to pick from and Darren (Moore, their manager) has 20,000 fans behind them and a fantastic atmosphere. We had to have a game plan and it was working, we rode our luck a bit in certain aspects for the first half hour, one bounced off the post, but we threatened every time we went forward and we looked a real threat.

“We got a good goal and it was great to see young Bailey put in a cross like that to John (Akinde) and he links up (with Vadaine) and we get a goal. I think we are then by far the better side.

“The second half started more end to end than Darren would have liked it but I liked it and we got a foothold in the game but then when you lose Oliver and you lose Dempsey and you are talking about what we have left back at home, it is just another case of where you are looking around and you feel like crying, but you don’t because the players gave everything they had.

"Someone said to me it was a Steve Evans-type performance and it was. We fought, when we fight we are not bad. I have always said if we can put our best team on the pitch we can beat anyone. The teams at the top don’t bother us but we have just not been able to name our best teams any week, not one, to put my best eleven on the pitch, not one.

"We were totally comfortable at Bolton [the game ended 2-2 after being 2-0 up] but had to take big John off and we were comfortable again and we had to take Big V off followed by Dempsey and that makes it hard, considering what we have in our treatment room. We had no other player we could have picked, we had five on the bench.

“We got a point from a difficult place. I have been a rival to the club (as Rotherham boss) for three or four years across the motorway but my respect was always at the highest level for a fantastic football club.

"There were kids among our travelling support who weren’t born the last time Gillingham played (at Hillsborough) and isn't it fantastic for them to go and see the magnificent traditional stadium. People talk about new stadiums across the country but I have been at Hillsborough with Leeds and Rotherham when there is 40,000 there, what is better than that?

“We got a point, five unbeaten (in the league), people say too many draws and they are right, but League 1 is a bit different this year."

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