Neil Harris felt Gillingham’s clash against Bolton Wanderers was ‘winnable’ heading into the encounter and that the red card his side suffered changed the complexion of the encounter at Priestfield.
Wanderers took the lead in the first half thanks to a brilliant strike from Aaron Morley for his first goal as a Bolton player.
The Gills went down to 10 men midway through the second half when Daniel Phillips was shown a second yellow card.
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And Wanderers capitalized with the extra man with goals from Declan John and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson before full-time in a scoreline where Bolton could have won by a much greater margin.
The win sees them stay 11th in the League One table but narrow the gap to the top six to seven points with 10 games of the campaign still to go.
The Gills meanwhile remain in the relegation zone and three points from safety at the foot of the third tier of English football.
Harris felt the clash was a ‘winnable’ one for the Gills going into the game but that Morley’s goal was one which they could not stop.
He believed the dismissal for Phillips changed the game, but raised questions about the circumstances of both the yellow cards handed out to the player.
Harris was unsure if the ball was out of play in the lead-up to the first booking and felt his side were the masters of their own downfalls with decisions that led to going down to 10 men.
He told KentOnline: “It is a harsh set-back to lose 3-0 at home in front of your own fans in a game you think is winnable.
“They got themselves in front with a really good goal, 25 yards into the top corner, you can’t stop them.
“We had chances, their build-up play was excellent, they played a bit of risk and reward with the ball, committed people forward but they played extremely well and got into good areas, I just thought maybe our levels were off and I will have a look at why, look at the training in the week and how hard we worked, maybe too hard, but we got things wrong tactically as well without the ball.
“As good teams do, they find a way to hurt you, going in at half-time we regrouped, changed the shape slightly, I thought second half we looked a lot better, a lot more coherent as a team and no issues.
“I felt we looked like the stronger team before the red card and that obviously changed the complexion of the game after that.
“The only question was, leading up to the first yellow card, was the ball out? It was right in front of me and I thought it was out but that has gone, it was a late challenge, a yellow card. Second yellow, disappointment for me, it is coming together, is he stopping progress? Possibly.
“I probably can’t argue with that but what I can argue with is that just before that, leading up to it we got a corner, first contact is ours and second contact Vadaine Oliver heads it when Jack Tucker was about to volley it.
“Jack’s learning curve as a youngster is that he has to call for the ball, if he shouts for the ball, Vadaine moves out of the way. Where it goes I don’t know but the ball doesn’t end up down our end of the pitch and a yellow card for Dan Phillips.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.