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Gillingham match preview

19 October 2018

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Rovers return to the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday when they host Gillingham in Sky Bet League One.

Rovers will go in search of a second league win in a row following last weekend’s 3-2 victory on the road at Rochdale, with goals from Ali Crawford, Andy Butler and Jermaine Anderson seeing Rovers come away from the Crown Oil Arena with three points.

Gillingham on the other hand head to South Yorkshire looking to avenge last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at home to Southend United.

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 62 games across his two spells as manager.

Of those 62 games in charge of the Gills, he has won 20, drawn 19 and lost 23, leaving him with a total win percentage of 32.26 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 six times in his 12 league games 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?

Graham Salisbury will be the man in the middle when the two sides meet on Saturday at the Keepmoat Stadium. So far this season he has taken control of 10 games, giving out 33 yellow cards and brandishing two red cards.

His last game in charge of Rovers came in February 2018 at Fratton Park when he officiated the 2-2 draw with Portsmouth, and his last game in control of the Gills saw him oversee a 4-0 defeat against Southend United on Easter Monday in April 2018 at Roots Hall.

He will be joined by assistant referees Barry Gordon and Duncan Street, with Lisa Rashid named as the fourth official.

Last time out

The last two meetings between the sides have been goalless draws, with both the opening day clash at the Keepmoat Stadium and April’s meeting at the Priestfield Stadium seeing neither side find the back of the net.

Rovers’ last win over the Gills came back in March 2008, also in League One, with goals from James Coppinger and Paul Heffernan giving Rovers three points at the Keepmoat Stadium.

From those that played in that game 10 years ago, Coppinger is not the only player from either side that could potentially line up in the same fixture on Saturday, with Barry Fuller, who re-joined the Gills over the summer, also starting that game for the visitors.

Tickets for Saturday’s Sky Bet League One clash with Gillingham are still available via the Club Doncaster Box Office – purchase yours now by either visiting in-store at the Keepmoat Stadium, by calling on 01302 762576, or online at

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