Gavin Gunning wants Harry McKirdy confidence to go up a level after Swindon draw



Posted Wednesday, February 14, 2024 by PA

Gavin Gunning wants Harry McKirdy confidence to go up a level after Swindon draw

Gavin Gunning called for Harry McKirdy to take his confidence to the next level after the loanee’s stoppage-time equaliser secured Swindon a point in a 2-2 draw with Gillingham.

New signing Sean McGurk struck after 24 minutes at Priestfield to give Town the lead, though Oli Hawkins’ header and Connor Mahoney’s penalty edged the Gills ahead.

The hosts thought they had wrapped up a comeback triumph, but Swindon managed to snatch a point through substitute McKirdy’s late equaliser – his first goal since returning to Town on loan from Hibernian.

Interim head coach Gunning, who has spent almost a month at the helm since Michael Flynn’s departure, said: “When it clicks for Harry, he can carve up defences at this level and I’m very happy for him.

“In his career he’s struggled for a bit of confidence, so maybe that goal will spur him on to the next level, I’m looking forward to his next few weeks unfolding.

“They’re in good form, they’re an experienced team, so all in all I’ll take the draw, 90 plus four, but it’s frustrating when we’re missing a load of chances.

“Obviously scoring at the death is brilliant, but when you’re in charge of a game and you miss chances, the players can get sloppy, they can punish you and you get out of your rhythm.

“Every manager we’ve played against has been really positive about the way we’re playing. When it clicks, somebody’s going to get a belting.”

Stephen Clemence’s side were on track to claim back-to-back wins and their fifth in eight matches before substitute McKirdy disrupted their evening at home.

Following a further dent to the Gills’ play-off charge, and the chance to move into seventh, the boss felt assured that his side’s belief is still strong.

He said: “You can’t fault the effort of the lads, they dug in when it was difficult and then had a right go in the second half. We were unfortunate not to win it in the end.

“There’s a belief in the group now that they can score goals and take teams on. They are in a much better place.

“We haven’t lost, we’ve moved a point closer to the play-offs, but it’s a bit frustrating knowing if we’d have won we’d have moved into the top seven.

“We didn’t start well enough, but fair play to Swindon, they played well and they could have been two or three up.

“We had to change one or two things at half-time, which helped us in the second half and allowed us to get more pressure up the pitch. I feel disappointed right now but I think it’s a fair result.”

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