Gillingham boss Stephen Clemence hailed his team’s mentality shift after League Two’s lowest scorers carved out a 1-0 win over struggling 10-man Sutton.
Substitute Scott Malone’s screamer with 18 minutes remaining proved the difference after Sutton’s Harry Smith was sent off midway through the first half at Priestfield Stadium.
It is the first time the Gills have found the net in three games and Clemence hopes it will inspire a commitment to improving their goal return in the new year.
He said: “I thought we were absolutely fantastic, even when they had 11 men, we’ve had enough chances today to probably win three football matches.
“It could have become difficult against 10 men, but we kept going after them, moving the ball around, and we’ve got to do that regardless of who we play.
“That’s the mindset I want us to have. I’m starting to see a shift in the players.
“The goal we scored was probably one of the hardest chances we had tonight. It was an excellent finish from Scott, so well done to him.
“We need to be more clinical. We’ve had a number of opportunities in the past couple of games, but we’re still the lowest scorers in League Two.
“I’m sure there’s been lots of criticism out there at us for not winning the last three games but the group always give their all.
“I don’t look at the table too much, it only matters come the end of the season.”
Three points bumped Gillingham up to 10th but it was a different story for interim Sutton manager Jason Goodliffe as United’s performance was a reminder that old habits die hard.
After a derby win against Wimbledon, Smith’s early sending-off for a challenge on Max Ehmer in the 26th minute stacked the odds against Sutton and, for Goodliffe, proved to be the turning point.
He said: “It was a hugely frustrating evening. I thought we were under the cosh for the first 10 minutes, as they came out of the traps well, but we managed to withstand it.
“We started to create some moments for ourselves, had a great chance through Smith and the game turned on the red card.
“I can’t fault the effort of the players, the boys gave it everything they could tonight. Deano (Dean Bouzanis) didn’t have a lot of saves to make and we defended our box extremely well. It’s taken an unbelievable strike into the top corner to beat us.
“From where I was, it didn’t look like a red card, I felt it was very harsh. From then on it was backs-to-the-wall stuff.
“It’s typical of how the season is going. We don’t seem to get the right decisions nor the right side of the luck.”