Steve Evans compares Gillingham forward Gerald Sithole to Brentford’s Ivan Toney

Posted Sunday, November 07, 2021 by PA

Steve Evans compares Gillingham forward Gerald Sithole to Brentford’s Ivan Toney

Gillingham boss Steve Evans compared his teenage forward Gerald Sithole to a Premier League striker after drawing 1-1 with Cheltenham in the FA Cup first round.

Mattie Pollock gave the Robins the lead after 34 minutes when his header was controversially adjudged to have crossed the line, despite Robbie McKenzie’s attempted acrobatic clearance.

Sithole then exquisitely equalised for the Gills with “an Ivan Toney-like finish” on the hour mark to force a replay.

And while Evans was happy to liken the 18-year-old Sithole to Brentford’s talisman Toney, he was less than impressed with the officiating.

“The disappointment is that Cheltenham score a goal today that isn’t a goal,” he said. “People have said the full ball isn’t over the line. The assistant is a long way away to give that.

“We’re not going to blame anyone; we didn’t play well enough in the first half but did enough in the second half to comfortably win a cup tie against a good side.

“I need another fixture like I need a big spot on my nose, but we’ll go to Cheltenham and pick a team – and I’m not sure we have an XI right now – and we’ll fight like we’ve done in the second half today.

“I’m proud of the kids – they’ve raised the senior players. Gerald [Sithole] gave us a spark, Bailey [Akehurst] made two or three great runs and also gave us a spark.

“Gerald has got everything to be a really good player and I’m absolutely in love with him. He’s a really good finisher – his goal today was like an Ivan Toney finish.”

For the second game in a row, Cheltenham squandered a 1-0 lead away from home to draw 1-1 – having done so at Portsmouth in midweek – and manager Michael Duff is desperate for his side to have enough self-belief to stay on the front foot once ahead.

“I’m disappointed as I felt we did enough to win the game,” explained Duff. “We went 1-0 up and we stopped passing the ball. They equalise and we started passing the ball again.

“Every time we made more than four passes we got into their back line. We’ve got to learn and grow from that but being slightly disappointed with a draw away at Gillingham shows how far we’ve come.

“The group is great and I just said to them that I love how they go about their work and the way they work for each other.

“But it’s about trying to get that final bit of belief into them, something that means when we go 1-0 up we stay on the front foot.”


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