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Gillingham (A) match preview

28 December 2018

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Rovers are on the road once again when they travel to face Gillingham in Sky Bet League One on Saturday.

Rovers head to Kent as they look to bounce back from a 3-0 defeat away at Fleetwood Town on Boxing Day which ended their eight-match unbeaten run.

Gillingham on the other hand are on a high after a 2-0 win over table-topping Portsmouth, also on Boxing Day, at the Priestfield Stadium.

Brief history of Gillingham FC

Gillingham play at the 11,582-capacity Priestfield Stadium, which has been their home since their formation in 1893.

The Gills only promotion from this level came in 2000, winning the Division Two play-off final against Wigan Athletic, defeating the Latics 3-2 after extra time with two goals in the last six minutes to turn the game on its head.

Their play-off success came a year after they fell at the same hurdle to future Premier League champions Manchester City. Despite being two goals up with 90 minutes played, injury time goals from two future ex-Rovers men in Kevin Horlock and Paul Dickov saw City force extra-time and then penalties.

They remained in the second tier of English football for five years before returning to League One in 2005. This current campaign will be the Gills’ sixth consecutive season in League One, following their League Two title-winning season during the 2012/13 campaign.

The Gills are also known for being Kent’s only EFL representative, with this being the case since 1992 following Maidstone United’s expulsion from the league that year.

Who’s the gaffer?

Steve Lovell is the man who will be in the Gills’ dugout on Saturday, having been named manager in September 2017. Last season saw the Gills’ boss named as the League One Manager of the Month for January following four wins that month for Lovell’s men.

Lovell also spent time in caretaker charge of the Gills between December 2014 and February 2015, and in total has taken charge of 78 games across his two spells as manager.

Of those 78 games in charge of the Gills, he has won 28, drawn 22 and lost 28, leaving him with a total win percentage of 35.9 per cent.

Ones to watch

Tomáš Holý

The former Czech Republic youth international signed for the Gills ahead of last season from Czech giants Sparta Prague. Holý will be no stranger to Rovers fans, having featured in the opening day fixture against the Gills last season in August 2017, where a string of fine saves from the stopper saw him keep a clean sheet and he ensured there would be a goalless draw at the Keepmoat Stadium. Holý made a total of 12 appearances for his country from under-16 level through to under-18 level, and he was even rumoured to be interesting Premier League giants Arsenal over the last summer.

Tom Eaves

The towering striker made his Gills’ debut in the goalless draw at the Keepmoat Stadium on the opening day of last season, and he went on to score 17 league goals last term. Eaves bagged two hat-tricks in a Gills shirt last year too, both at the Priestfield Stadium, with one coming against Southend United, and the other on the final day of the season in a 5-2 win over Plymouth Argyle. Eaves has started this season brightly too, and has scored 14 goals in Sky Bet League One so far.

Gabriel Zakuani

The former DR Congo international defender joined the Gills in June 2017, and also made his debut in the goalless draw with Rovers. Zakuani is also a former teammate of current Rovers pair Tommy Rowe and manager Grant McCann, having played alongside the duo at Peterborough United, with the three of them playing in the League One play-off final in 2011, in which Rowe and McCann both scored to send the Posh up at Old Trafford. Zakuani made 30 appearances for his country, appearing at the African Cup of Nations in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

Who’s the ref?

Neil Hair will be the man in the middle when the two sides meet at the Priestfield Stadium on Saturday. Hair has taken charge of 17 games in league and cup competitions this season, dishing out 53 yellow cards, whilst brandishing a red card three times.

Hair is yet to take charge of a game involving Rovers, however, he was in charge of the Gills’ 1-0 defeat away at Oxford United last month.

Hair will be joined by assistant referees Adrian Tranter and Paul Graham, with Stephen Brown being named as the fourth official.

Last time out

Rovers and the Gills played out a thrilling 3-3 draw when they last met at the Keepmoat Stadium back in October. Barry Fuller and Tom Eaves put the Gills 2-0 up at the break, before John Marquis and Mallik Wilks put Rovers back on level terms.

Max Ehmer volleyed in from a corner with just two minutes of normal time left to play, before Paul Taylor’s deflected strike from distance bounced into the back of the net to snatch a point at the death for Rovers.

Rovers last win at the Priestfield Stadium came back in January 2007, with goals from Jason Price and Brian Stock sealing a 2-0 win for Rovers in League One.

Rovers return to the Keepmoat Stadium to take on Rochdale on New Year's Day, tickets are available from

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