25 March 2023

Paul Simpson slams ‘worst’ performance of season as Carlisle lose at Gillingham

25 March 2023

Carlisle boss Paul Simpson claimed his side produced their worst display of the season in the 1-0 loss at Gillingham.

The Cumbrians failed to record a shot on target until the 80th minute but kept out a battling Gills side until the fourth minute of stoppage time.

Shaun Williams’ last-gasp winner earned Gillingham a seventh victory in their last eight home games while Carlisle dropped to fourth, a point adrift of the automatic promotion places.

Simpson said: “That’s the worst we’ve played all season in my opinion. We had nothing from the start of the game until the end.

“Credit to Gillingham, they kept going and got their reward at the end.

“Unfortunately, you can’t come to any ground anywhere in the league, perform like that and expect to take anything out of it. We absolutely got what we deserved.

“We didn’t do anything: we didn’t win our duels, we didn’t pass the ball properly in any area of the pitch, and we didn’t do anything in the final third. We weren’t good enough as a whole group.”

The hosts should have gone ahead approaching the hour but Oli Hawkins miscued his header before Tim Dieng met Tom Nichols’ cutback but fired tamely at former Gills goalkeeper Tomas Holy.

Carlisle’s only shot on target was as unconvincing as their performance as substitute Kristian Dennis left Glenn Morris untroubled.

Max Ehmer looped a header from Williams’ corner into Holy’s hands and Dieng’s shot from distance was deflected as the Gills looked the more likely to score a late winner.

Holy’s mistake on his return to Priestfield gifted the hosts their late victory as the Czech goalkeeper parried Dom Jefferies’ shot straight to the unmarked Williams, who fired home from close range.

Gillingham manager Neil Harris said: “That’s great for us as a group and brilliant for the fans. People work so hard to earn their money to come to games and they’re not leaving early any more.

“They want to stay until the end because they want to clap the team off and, on days like today, they trust and hope we might come up with something at the end.

“It’s a great finish from Shaun. I spoke to him at length this morning about his role today – the old boy has played back-to-back 90 minutes on Saturday and Tuesday this week and I wanted to see if he could go again.

“He managed the game with his brain and his quality. It’s no coincidence he scores the winning goal in the 94th minute after ending up in their six-yard box.

“I can’t praise him enough; he’s a top professional, he’s been magnificent.”

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