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League One

Rotherham United manager Steve Evans thrilled by Tom Hitchcock

5 April 2014

Rotherham United manager Steve Evans admitted he surprised even himself after his second-half substitute Tom Hitchcock fired in a hat-trick to seal a Play-Off spot for the Millers with a thrilling 4-3 win at Gillingham.

Evans' side twice trailed at the Priestfield Stadium but it was the introduction of Queens Park Rangers loanee Hitchcock that proved decisive.

Kieran Agard had put the visitors in front early on before goals from Adebayo Akinfewa and Myles Weston turned the match on its head.

It took only eight minutes after his introduction for Hitchcock to level it up again but despite Bradley Dack putting the Gills back in front the 21-year-old was not done.

The forward slid in his second goal before winning the game in injury time with a curling lob to leave Evans purring.

"My substitutions are normally awful but that's the substitution of all time that one," he said.

"He looked particularly bright in the reserves on Monday and there was a thought to start him today, but the team's been going so well we left him on the bench.

"He's a young man who's going to play at a good level and he's got a fantastic hat-trick.

"I don't think we can (get automatic promotion). We've got in the play-offs and a lot of managers will be disappointed at their judgement at the start of the season; they made some rubbish predictions because they said we'd fight to stay up.

"Did we deserve to win Yes. By a country mile? Yes, we did.

"We made a couple of defensive errors - Kari Arnason cost us a couple of goals, let's not lie about it. But we're always going to try and win here and if that means putting strikers on at 90-plus minutes then that's what we'll do."

Meanwhile, Gills boss Peter Taylor could scarcely believe some of his side's defending as they twice threw away the lead to emerge with nothing from the match.

"I think we deserved to get something out of it," said Taylor.

"Our work rate was brilliant, character fantastic, but defensively we were poor. It's frustrating; we knew were playing against a good team who create lots of chances and are in good form, so we needed to defend better than we did.

"As much as they're a good team , I think they got some easy goals because of some poor defending for us.

"It was a bad start (conceding after 13 seconds). They got through us too easily, but if you're going to go a goal down, you might as well go a goal down that early on because you've got time to get it back.

"Credit to the players after that, we got better at the end of the first half and at half-time I felt we would show them more of what we could do.

"Character is one thing, but you've got to be organised and disciplined to get points."

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