Gills - Page 2

All-action fixture-list could benefit Gills

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Monday, March 18 2013

THE LAST few weeks of the season often sees a number of dead-rubber fixtures that mean little to either team.

But the fact that there could be something riding on every Gillingham game from now to the end of the season may well benefit Martin Allen’s side.

The sticky moments this season have arisen when teams have sat back deep, settling for a point.

But with Gillingham’s last eight games being against either promotion hopefuls or relegation threatened teams, nobody will have the luxury of settling for a point.

At the business end points aren’t going to be any use to anyone. It means teams will have to play more open football and that could suit the Gills, as they make the most of that space, like they did at the start of the season.

The rollercoaster starts this Tuesday night when the Gills visit a Rochdale side still needing points to steer clear of an ever-gripping relegation tussle.

Rochdale sit just above a six-way scrap, where only one point separates all six teams.

From Tuesday on it really is make or break for those sides facing the Gills.

Accrington, who visit Priestfield on Saturday, sit bottom of the league at present, with the worst goal difference. Only wins now will save them.

At the end of March the Gills head to a Fleetwood side in the last chance saloon as they chase a play-off place. Draws won’t do for them either.

April begins with the visit of a Rotherham side who still harbour ambitions of gate-crashing the automatic promotion party. Their visit is followed by the arrival of a Torquay side plummeting headlong towards non-league football.

In the first half of the season Torquay were sitting on the edge of the play-offs but with just one win in 18 they are in a desperate state.

In mid-April the Gills head to Cheltenham, where their former boss Martin Allen is sure to come under fire, after a disappointing stint there. The Robins currently sit fourth and could sneak a place in the top three.

Wimbledon are the last team to visit Priestfield and unless they sustain their recent good form, they too could be needing points to keep clear of trouble.

The excitement ends on April 28 when Burton Albion host the Gills. Hopefully by then everything will be done and dusted for the Gills, but for Burton, they may well be looking to take an automatic promotion place alongside Allen’s men.

None of those sides should be sitting back and so hopefully that means the Gills will have space to attack and finish the season off in style, just like they started it.

Chasing teams eye up top spots

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Wednesday, March 6 2013

GILLINGHAM and Port Vale have been left to their own devices in the battle for top spot but could all that be about to change?

With Port Vale stalling and Gillingham dropping vital points on home soil the door has been left ajar for others to join the party.

Rotherham look set to be the team best positioned to make a late charge with just a handful of weeks left between now and the season finale on April 27, but they are not alone.

The Millers are the form team, winning four of their last six, including a 4-0 win at Oxford on Tuesday night.

They could move to within a point of Port Vale if they win their game in hand over the long-time title challengers.

The last few weeks have been a massive disappointment for Vale, who have won just one of their last six, scoring just two goals in the process.

Even Tom Pope - with 27 goals so far - is struggling, as he hasn’t found the target in any of the last eight games. Is it any coincidence that his form has waned ever since the arrival of Lee Hughes.

If the results don’t turn quickly for Micky Adams’ side they may be finding themselves sucked into the play-off mix, as the likes of Exeter, Burton, Northampton and Cheltenham pull out all the stops for a late promotion push.

Cheltenham are unbeaten in six, with just one defeat in 12, but draws are slowing them down. A last minute win over Chesterfield in midweek leaves them in third but they have played more games than anyone else.

Nobody should take their eyes off Paul Tisdale’s Exeter side, who have quietly manoeuvred themselves into a good position. With four wins in five they are making up ground quick and could take over third spot with a win at Bristol Rovers on Wednesday night.

Exeter’s 3-0 win over Northampton on Saturday stopped another form team in their tracks. The Cobblers had been surging up the table before that heavy defeat.

Burton will be cursing themselves for losing so badly at Bristol Rovers, having won their previous four, netting 13 in the process.

Of the five teams below the Gills and Vale, in 30 games, there have been just three defeats between them, which highlights just what a concerted effort they are putting in.

The Gills’ form isn’t too shabby, with just one defeat in six, but any slip-ups and it seems that there are plenty of willing suitors to take over the mantle at the top.

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Categories: Gillingham | Gillingham FC | Gills

Fresh faces make sense

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Thursday, February 21 2013

THE recent arrival of new faces was the breath of fresh air the Gills needed.

Michael Richardson and Ryan Williams may not be recognised names but their enthusiasm can be infectious.

The same can be said of Steven Gregory and Anton Robinson - two players itching to show what they can do after barely kicking a ball for their parent clubs this season before arriving at Priestfield.

Those arrivals coincided with the departure of the likes of Danny Jackman, Ben Strevens and Ross Flitney.

Not long before that, the Gills said goodbye to Lewis Montrose.

There is no doubting that these are good players but when good players don’t get games they get frustrated.

Just as that enthusiasm can give the team a lift, players who aren’t playing regularly and are down in the dumps can set in motion a wave of negativity.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just football.

Everyone wants to play and at this level sitting on the bench for some just isn’t an option.

For someone like Strevens he had to get games. In the summer his contract at the Gills was at an end and it was doubtful it was going to be extended.

So rather than join the mass summer cull, he’s gone early to make sure he has some money coming in from football next season.

The same has happened to Jackman, now playing regularly for a Kidderminster side who are flying in the Conference.

We have all seen what a quality player Jackman is, but if he’s not getting games then he’s going to start getting itchy feet. Does the Gills manager want a player in the squad who is unsettled or one who is young, fresh and full of beans?

The recent player changes may not have just been based on skill alone. Footballers want to play football and any footballer with a passion for the game will be annoyed when he doesn’t play.

That is not to say it’s what happened in this case but boss Martin Allen did admit himself it would be better for these players to leave for first team football.

So it was no surprise to see Gills boss let some good senior players go, to be replaced by youngsters who aren’t at the stage of their careers when they can be making any kind of demands.

It makes life off the field more harmonious and gives the likes of Strevens and Jackman the chance to start enjoying their football again.

The extra bonus is that a lot of these youngsters will be on a lot less money and if things don’t work out after 28 days they can be sent packing without any fuss.

Allen may not be finished in the transfer market this season. There is speculation he could make a loan offer to Sheffield Wednesday for young forward Harry Grant.

More youth, more enthusiasm and more energy helps keep everyone on their toes. It’s a mix that blends perfectly with the experience heads like Adam Barrett and Deon Burton.

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Categories: Gillingham | Gillingham FC | Gills

Cody arrival in time to boost home form

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Wednesday, January 23 2013

THE arrival of Cody McDonald is sure to boost Saturday’s gate at Priestfield but will the home fans be going home disappointed again?
There has often been an air of expectancy at Priestfield this season, especially against the lower sides and in many matches the lack of away support has meant for a subdued atmosphere.
It could be a different story this weekend, however. The arrival of a new signing - with rumours of more to follow - has certainly lifted the mood of those who were beginning to show signs of doubt.
McDonald is due to complete the formalities of his loan deal before the weekend.
The players are certainly in the mood and after speaking with both Myles Weston and Stuart Nelson after their training session with soon-to-be-signed Cody this week, there is a real buzz around the camp.
Wins in the next two home games will see the Gills reclaim top spot over Port Vale and I wouldn’t put that past this team now.
There is also the chance that David Wright could also be involved again soon and a deal could even be concluded by this weekend, although we may again be faced with an anxious deadline-day wait.
It will be sad to see Jack Payne leave (in a swap deal) - as it was to see Connor Essam head out of Priestfield this week - but the current management team have got this Gills team chasing a league title so fans will just have to keep the faith.
What we all know, however, is that a league title won’t be won on the current home form that we’ve seen of late.
But I’m confident that will change soon. This is a side that earlier on in the season was hitting four goals most weekends at Priestfield, including against League 1 Scunthorpe in the cup.
The players are confident that they can turn this home form around and the manager certainly is, not that it is something anybody is losing any sleep over.
If I was a York fans I’d be concerned. They’re lacking firepower at the moment while the Gills have it in abundance and surely there is only going to be one winner this weekend.

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Categories: Gillingham and Rainham Conservative Association | Gills

Gills on course to smash record

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Wednesday, January 16 2013

IF Saturday’s match gets the green light and avoids the frost it could end up being an historical occasion.

Amazingly the Gills have only ever hit double figures in away wins once before in their history,

That came back in the 1984/85 season under the management of Keith Peacock, where the Gills won 10 and lost 10, while drawing the other three of their away outings.

This season the Gills are already on the nine-win mark, with 10 games left to go, so it’s a near certainty that the record won’t just be beaten - it will be smashed!

That 2009/10 season under Mark Stimson now seems like a long way off, when the Gills failed to win a single game in the road.

So why so good away?

Key to the Gills success on their travels this season has been a solid defence, one that is able to soak up anything thrown at them.

The game at Southend was the perfect example of what’s been going right for the Gills away from home.

Home teams can pile the pressure on as much as they want but with a stone wall to get through, it’s brought in an abundance of points this season.

On the flip side to the Gills’ solid back-line is their ability to hit teams on the break - the old smash and grab routine.

The pace of Myles Weston upfront and those in support, like Whelpdale, Lee and Allen mean that those teams are being punished.

Quite often this season, and as shown in their last two away travels, they’ve got an early goal and teams have just been unable to find an answer back. Gillingham have conceded just nine goals on their travels so far - compared to 14 goals at Priestfield in the same number of games.

To have conceded two sloppy goals last weekend was quite a shock, particularly as winning balls in the air has been one of Gills’ strengths this season. Both goals originated from crosses that should have been defended better.

Rochdale are a team in despair and the Gills could really enjoy themselves if they get an early goal.

The talk from Spotland is that their manager is under a fair bit of pressure and it won’t take much for an already frustrated home crowd to turn against their team.

The covers are on at Rochdale and an army of volunteers are ready for remove the snow on Thursday and Friday. I was told by someone in their office the pitch underneath the covers is “ideal”.

It seems to be an ideal time to play a disheartened Rochdale team and if they do, don’t be surprised to see the Gills bounce back with a bumper win to equal that record set by Peacock and co.

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Categories: Gills | Government

Gills have nothing to fear from Vale attack

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Wednesday, January 9 2013


WHILE everyone is raving about Port Vale’s strike force little has been said about Gillingham’s impenetrable defence.

In the last two games the Gills have kept clean sheets and left keeper Stuart Nelson as a virtual spectator.

Both Southend and Bristol Rovers had spells in those games where they put the pressure on but when the Gills need to defend, they defend well.

An opposition team can have the ball all they want but what Gillingham seem to be able to do lately is stop the shots coming in and that’s only done through hard work and organisation.

New signing Leon Legge is the experienced and mobile defender that Martin Allen has been hunting for ever since Tom Flanagan’s loan period was cut short with injury.

Callum Davies has proved what a quality addition to the squad he has become this season but even he admits that, at his tender age, he is prone to mistakes. His time will come.

For now the combination at the back between Legge and Adam Barrett looks formidable.

The fantastic reception that Barrett got from the Southend fans - where he was once captain - shows what they think of him and at 33 he has plenty left in the tank.

He is a natural leader and an organiser and now Legge has come in and immediately shown everyone what he is about. In the two games, I’m not sure he’s been beaten in the air yet and he has put in some strong tackles, as well as posing a threat at set-pieces for the Gills.

And while the Gills boss has been keen to rotate his midfield and attack, he has understandably kept things solid at the back.

Keeper Nelson has played every minute of every league game and right-back Matt Fish - who would certainly be a player-of-the-year contender if the season ended now - has started every game so far. Only injury has stopped left-back Joe Martin of doing the same in the league.

It’s a defence that is second only to League 1 Swindon in having the best defensive record of the 92 English league teams - averaging 0.84 goals conceded per game.

So Lee Hughes, Tom Pope and co at Vale are going to need to be at their very best if they want to break open the Gills defence.

It will certainly be an intriguing battle, especially now that Hughes is at Vale.

There was little doubt that when he was freed from his contract at Notts County the Gills would be interested. Allen had worked with him before and a record of 66 goals in 146 games speaks for itself.

The Gills boss was in the office at 5.30am on Tuesday trying to get a deal on the table but to no avail.

Luckily for the Gills they already have some quality of their own upfront - without criminal records - and Deon Burton is showing this season what a quality signing he is.

The goal in Bristol was stunning but he doesn’t just score. For a veteran striker his work-rate is phenominal and he can often be seen helping out in defence.

So let’s not worry what Port Vale have to offer. There is quality aplenty in the Gills ranks.


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Categories: Gills | Government

Hectic day at Priestfield as Allen trims the fat

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Thursday, January 3 2013

IF you weren’t paying attention on Thursday you missed an awful lot.

Mid-season transfer windows usually come and go with precious little activity at Priestfield.

But the arrival of midfielder Steven Gregory on Wednesday, shortly after defender Leon Legge signed from Brentford, took Martin Allen’s squad size to 31 and something had to give.

Cue the departure of four players, the loan departure of one, with another likely to follow, and three heading for the exit door on potential free transfers.

And all this amid rumours of a major signing to bolster the strike force, even if the manager is staying pretty cool on the subject.

So if you weren’t paying attention, then here’s how we stand after a frantic start to the January transfer window.

Boss Martin Allen was hoping to bring in David Wright from Crystal Palace, on a permanent deal rather than a loan, but the Gills were unable to match the demands from the Championship club and so in came Steven Gregory.

He played in the same AFC Wimbledon team as Danny Kedwell as they returned the original Dons back to the Football League in 2011. Allen stepped up his interest in Gregory after sitting in the stands and watching Gregory captain Wimbledon (while there on loan) during their recent FA Cup game against bitter rivals MK Dons.

And the Gills didn’t even need to part with any cash after Gregory was released by Bournemouth on a free just before Christmas.

Allen saved his players from a miserable Christmas by choosing to wait until the festivities were over before delivering the news to those he felt were not going to make the grade.

Making it as a League 2 players is not enough anymore, as Allen said in Thursday’s press conference.

“Everyone that comes in has got to be able to challenge in League 1,” said the Gills boss.

“There is no point in bringing in squad players. Our young players are coming up to fill those gaps and what comes into the building now has got to be good enough to do it again next season and challenge at the top.

“We are not going there (League 1) to make the numbers up, we aren’t going up there to play around with relegation, we can go up there and smash it again; that’s what we are aiming to do.”

So Allen had the task of telling Tom Brunt, Jack Evans, George Humber and Alex Brown that their futures lie elsewhere. All were released.

“One of them (Tom Brunt) told me it was his birthday when he walked into the blinking office!” said Allen, who described the task as being a “horrible” experience.

Allen had bad news for some of his more experienced pros as well.

Striker Ben Strevens, keeper Ross Flitney and defender Connor Essam have all been made available for free, although all will remain Gills players and the door hasn’t been close on any.

Strevens has four strikers infront of him in the pecking order and, contrary to several rumours, all are set to see the season out for the Gills.

“Those four are staying right the way through to the end of the season,” said the Gills boss.

Flitney started the season injured and there is little chance of shifting Stuart Nelson from the number one spot. But even Allen admitted letting Essam go will be tough.

He knows the defender has massive potential and will slap in a 30% sell-on fee if anyone wants him. He is contracted to the Gills until 2015 and Allen said: “The door is not closed and I would be delighted if he forces his way in to be first choice.”

Two more players face time away from the Gills, but with differing reasons.

Bradley Dack is only 19 and has plenty of potential but Allen was keen to get him some game time so contacted Conference Premier side Braintree to see if they would take him. Their manager Alan Devonshire didn’t have to think long, especially as he has got him for virtually nothing.

And lastly, on a frantic day at Priestfield, it looks as though Lewis Montrose has played his last game for the Gills. His contract expires in the summer and he is set to join another club on loan until the end of the season. The deal has yet to be completed so Allen wanted to destination to remain quiet for now.

So that’s it for now, although those asking about Cody McDonald will be interested to here what Allen had to say, so here you go.

“I don’t really know Cody that well,” said Allen. “I know what a good footballer he is but I don’t know what his situation is at Coventry, I just don’t know.

“My priority has been to get a centre back in place of Tom Flanagan and my priority was to get a central midfield player in the position that David Wright was playing.

“It was like a new signing to give Adam Birchall his (league) debut at Southend. He is like having a new centre forward in so I am not banging Mr Scally’s door down to get a new centre forward.

“With regards to that player I am not specifically saying yes or no but what I will say is that I do ask Mr Scally about players and about how we can improve, what we can do to improve, who can we get to improve us, how much it will cost. When he says no I am fine, we just carry on working.”

It’s been a busy start to the January transfer window and it wouldn’t be a shock if we see a little more action before the end of the month.

January transfers should give Gills final push

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Tuesday, December 18 2012

THE points total may have slowed down a bit for Gills in recent weeks but with January looming things are surely only going to get better.

There is no question over how much the Gills have missed the presence of David Wright as a calming influence at the back and no doubt he’ll be number one on Martin Allen’s hit list.

The defensive midfielder hasn’t played for Crystal Palace since ending his initial loan spell at the club.

Hopefully when the transfer window opens the Gills and Palace can pick up where they left off with the paperwork and complete a deal that wasn’t done in time when the previous window shut.

Apart from the 2-1 home defeat to Rochdale, the Gills were a tough nut to crack with Wright in the team, conceding just three goals in the seven games he played and winning most of them.

Tom Flanagan is another miss. The Gills have some talented youngsters at the back, in Connor Essam, Callum Davies and now Devante McKain, but Flanagan has something the rest didn’t - experience.

It was such a shame to see him pick up an injury just days after celebrating making his international bow for Northern Ireland’s under-21 side.

Another loan defender with a bit of pace and experience will be a valuable addition to the squad. That’s not to say Davies and co can’t do a job if a newcomer doesn’t arrive.

Perhaps a back-up for Myles Weston wouldn’t harm either. He has been a fantastic free transfer signing for the club but there are few others on the books with his pace and direct approach in attack.

Could Allen also be looking at a back-up in the full-back department. Both Matt Fish and Joe Martin are on four bookings - so likely to face a ban soon - and a versatile and experienced player to rampage up and down the wing wouldn’t be a bad move.

Whatever Martin’s plans, January looks like being an exciting time for the Gills fans. Hopefully the extra players coming in will give them that push to take them up as champions. And to think some people STILL moan!

The Gills seem to have money to burn, now chairman Paul Scally and his fellow directors have wiped out the bank loan that had been like a noose on the club’s neck.

Let’s not pretend the debt has disappeared. Mr Anderson and the fellow directors will want their money back at some point, but better them than owed to a bank who could call in the debt at any time.

The money generated from Matt Jarvis, Paulo Gazzaniga, Luke Rooney and Ryan Bertrand will have given the balance sheet a much better look and helped pay off some of those loans. Maybe it means that stadium move - designed to help wipe the debt clean and generate money away from 3pm on a Saturday - can wait a little longer.

Things are certainly looking good for the Gills, with a man in charge that is desperate for that first promotion and title win on his CV. 

Saturday’s attendance showed that the fan-base is still there so let’s hope the second half of the season sees the Gills push on and make this season an historic one.

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Categories: Gills | Government

Strength at the back is driving Gills forward

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Thursday, September 27 2012

Gillingham's front-line strikers have taken much of the credit for the blistering start to the season but a run of three clean sheets is testament to the work done where it was needed most.

Wins over Bristol Rovers, Southend and Port Vale have been achieved without conceding and credit must go to the way Martin Allen and his team have set up the team to defend.

Key arrivals over the summer have helped, with the likes of experienced keeper Stuart Nelson and no-nonsense defender Adam Barrett joining the Gills. The presence of Crystal Palace loan-man David Wright has also given extra assurance at the back.

And Allen has also played it safe in games after going ahead early, by introducing more defence-minded players like Andy Frampton, to ensure there are no last-minute dramas.

The Gills head into Saturday's game against Rochdale with the best defensive record in the division (conceding just a goal every other game) - a stark contrast to last season where goals flew in at both ends on a regular basis.

Fans were certainly put through it, with games against Northampton (4-3), Wimbledon (3-4), Hereford (5-4), Crewe (3-4), Accrington (3-4) and Bournemouth (3-2). Enough drama to fill a ‘how not to defend’ manual many times over.

This season the Gills have only conceded more than one goal twice, and both in cup games, against Championship Middlesbrough (0-2) and League 1 Crawley - where an understrength Gills team lost 3-2.

Only for a brief spell, against Chesterfield, have the Gills been behind in any league game. Eight minutes to be precise.

Individual performances have gone up another level, with Matt Fish now looking much more at ease on the right and Joe Martin looking steady on the other flank. The transformation of Callum Davies from a bench-warmer to a solid League 2 defender has been a great bonus. Even if it has meant his mate Connor Essam has needed to go out on loan to get games.

And it hasn't just been individuals who have made an impact.

The Gills are organised well and defend as a unit. With Allen drumming the message home from the sidelines throughout games, that message is getting through. Runners are tracked, crosses are being blocked and headers are being won.

During this week's chat with Allen he made a point of noting the improvement of Lewis Montrose. The big midfielder was sent away with instructions to improve his heading and against Vale he constantly won the ball in the air on the edge of the box, time and again alleviating pressure on the defence.

Much of the day-to-day training is taken by assistant John Schofield and his input to what we're seeing on the pitch shouldn't be underestimated. The coaching team of Schofield, Carl Muggleton and Allen is certainly one that is helping to shape the Gills into a rigid, organised team when defending and a fluid, fast-paced and exciting one going forward.

It's a joy to watch at the moment but it's not through luck, or by out-scoring the opposition, that the Gills are sitting pretty at the top of League 2.

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Categories: Gillingham | Gillingham FC | Gills

Gills looking Myles better

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Wednesday, August 22 2012

Those that witnessed Myles Weston’s opening performances for the Gills will be forgiven for getting a bit excited.

Not since the days of Matt Jarvis have the Gills had a winger to make full-backs quake in their boots.

He may not be Jarvis class, but Myles Arthur Euguene Wesley Weston – his full name according to Wikipedia - certainly proved too hot to handle for Wycombe in the opening periods of Tuesday night’s game and that pace is something that has been badly lacking at Gills in recent seasons.

On Tuesday they were able to use Weston as predatory attacker in the first half and then, when up against it with ten men, the Gills were able to feed him the ball and let him do what he liked as an outlet to give the rest of the team some much needed recovery time.

Gills, under Martin Allen, are set up with just three midfielders and someone sat infront of the Back four (Jack Payne on Tuesday). It means the full-backs are required to get forward as often as possible, which does tend to suggest a winger is not required.

But Weston has shown versatility already. His favoured position is on the left flank, where he made an impressive substitute showing at the weekend, but on Tuesday he went upfront with Danny Kedwell and appears to have been given license to roam.

He is fast and direct and it is just a shame his early run down the flank on Tuesday, where he jumped two sliding tackles and even got the home fans off their seats, wasn’t rewarded with a goal. A fine save denied him a really special moment.

But no doubt we will eventually see a run and finish, assuming Weston can maintain that quality, and there is no reason he can’t. He is young, he has dropped down a level and he just wants to play games and express himself. Allen seems set to give him that opportunity.

Consistency, like all lower division players, will be his biggest obstacle.

Another to have impressed since signing has been Charlie Allen. He will be facing doubters after being signed by his father but young Charlie is proving what a class player he is. And again, it is his pace from midfield which is unsettling opponents. He also has an eye for a pass, like the one he served up for Danny Kedwell to open the scoring on Saturday.

It is early days for both Weston and Allen but both, so far, have given the Gills so much more energy and certainly made them more entertaining to watch.


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Categories: Football | Gillingham FC | Gills

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