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Gillingham match preview

2 August 2019

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Rovers get their 2019/20 Sky Bet League One campaign underway with a home game against Gillingham at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Both sides will have managers taking charge of their first competitive game for their respective clubs, with Darren Moore and Steve Evans both looking to get off to a flying start.

Brief history of Gillingham

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 campaign will be the Gills’ seventh 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.

After starting last season brightly, Gillingham finished in a respectable 13th position in the table, and were just five points off a top-half finish.

Who’s the gaffer?

Former Rotherham United, Leeds United and Peterborough manager Steve Evans was appointed as Gills’ new manager earlier this summer. Evans was the man in charge at London Road last season before being released from his contract in January – he spent a few months out of the game before becoming the new man in charge at Priestfield Stadium.

Ones to watch

Gabriel Zakuani

An experienced centre-back at League One level, Zakuani has been with the Gills since the summer of 2017. Having started his career at Leyton Orient, he earned a big money move to then Premier League side Fulham in 2006 for an initial fee of £1 million. The most successful spell of his career to date came after signing a permanent deal with Peterborough United. He played more than 200 times for Posh across two spells there, before signing for Gillingham via a season with Northampton.

Brandon Hanlan

After coming through the ranks at Charlton Athletic, Hanlan made his first-team debut for them in August 2016. After loan spells with Bromley either side of a temporary stint with Colchester United, the front man made a permanent move to Gillingham last summer. He made the perfect start to his time in Kent with a goal on his debut against Accrington Stanley, and went on to be named as the club’s Young Player of the Year at the end of the 2018/19 campaign.

Ousseynou Cisse

The 6ft 5’ central midfielder made the move to Gillingham from fellow Sky Bet League One side MK Dons earlier this summer. After starting his career in France with Amiens in 2009, the Mali international made almost 100 appearances for Dijon before a move to Spain with Rayo Vallecano. A move back to France followed 12 months later, before he signed for MK Dons in the summer of 2017. After relegation in his first season with the club, Cisse played a big part in their return to the third tier in what turned out to be his final year at Stadium MK.

Who’s the ref?

John Busby will be the man in the middle for Rovers’ Sky Bet League One opener this weekend, and you can read more about him here.

Last time out

Rovers ran out 3-1 winners the last time the two sides met in the final league game of 2018. John Marquis opened the scoring at Priestfield Stadium against his former club, before goals from Mallik Wilks and Danny Andrew sealed the victory. Tom Eaves scored what turned out to be a consolation goal late on for the home side.


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