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Gillingham assistant manager Paul Raynor's verdict on the 2-0 Papa John's Trophy defeat by West Ham under-21s

Paul Raynor saw a flat performance punished by West Ham's youngsters as Gillingham fringe players failed to shine.

The Gills’ interest in the Papa John’s Trophy ended at the group stage following a 2-0 home defeat by the Hammers’ under-21 side on Tuesday night.

It was a strong team on paper, even with several changes, but Gillingham didn’t deliver.

“We’ve put out a team we felt would do a lot better than they did tonight, so it’s a disappointing performance,” said assistant manager Raynor. “I just felt it was a flat performance.

“They’ve got some very good young players and you’ve got to give West Ham credit, they played some good stuff, they played with a real energy, real aggression and a lot of quality at times.

“We never really got going. We conceded two sloppy goals and when you do that it’s a mountain to climb.

“There were some disappointing individual performances as well.

“We’ve given people an opportunity tonight, they’ve been knocking on the door of the office saying I’m desperate to play, give me a chance, we’ve given them a chance and they’ve not grasped that opportunity.”

Olly Lee tries to create an opening during the Gills' Papa John's Trophy tie against West Ham Picture: Andy Jones
Olly Lee tries to create an opening during the Gills' Papa John's Trophy tie against West Ham Picture: Andy Jones

Six changes included starts for midfielders Ben Reeves, Olly Lee and Dan Adshead, along with striker Charlie Kelman.

But they didn’t hit the heights the management were expecting as West Ham ran out comfortable winners with first-half goals from Harrison Ashby and Thierry Nevers.

Raynor said: “I’m disappointed for them because I know they’re telling us they’re chomping on the bit, they’re telling us they’re desperate to play, that was the ideal opportunity against a decent West Ham team to show we’re ready for Saturday.

"We’ve not been in scintillating form, we did play well in spells on Saturday (at Bolton) and probably should have got more out of the game, but there are opportunities there to break into the team.

"John Akinde’s come back into the team, Rhys Bennett’s come into the team, Danny Lloyd’s come into the team, and that’s on performances in training and in games when they’ve impacted the games.

"But we didn’t impact the game whatsoever tonight and that’s the disappointing thing, because they can play, they wouldn’t be at a League 1 club if they couldn’t play, they just didn’t grasp that opportunity.

“That’s disappointing for them and disappointing for us because we want an opportunity to pick these players, but if they’re not performing we can’t do that.”

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