Ahead of a huge game for both sides in the fight against relegation from League One, we spoke to Gillingham fan Matt from GillsInTheBlood. You can follow them on Twitter and find them on YouTube for more content for today’s encounter from a Gillingham perspective.
How has your season panned out so far?
I think I would describe it as patchy and inconsistent. After winning our opening two fixtures we went on an 11-game winless run which left us playing catch up.
We then turned over an unbeaten Portsmouth at Fratton Park before failing to win our next four. Generally too many of our good results – Burton home and away (3-1 & 2-3) Portsmouth home and away (2-0 & 0-2) Bradford (4-0) Fleetwood at home and away (3-0 & 1-1) Scunthorpe at home and away (0-2 & 1-0) and Luton away (2-2) have then been wasted as shockers against Wimbledon at home (0-1) Rochdale away (3-0) Southend home and away (0-2 & 2-0) you boys away (3-1) Walsall at home (0-3) and most recently Shrewsbury at home (0-2) have seen us take one or two steps back.
Are there any players who have stood out especially this season?
The obvious one is Tom Eaves again who has gone through the 20-goal barrier, but for me Barry Fuller has been exceptional having returned to the club in the summer at 34 years old. Of the younger players both Connor Ogilvie and Brandon Hanlan have got better and better as the season has gone on.
What tactical style would you say you’re playing right now?
I imagine we will start with a diamond in midfield, which up until last week has generally stood us in good stead for the last couple of months or so, and if we can get the right players into the correct positions we generally look alright. If, however, the gaffer decides to switch things up like at half time last week (don’t get me started) and revert to a back three then I think we’ll struggle. Our biggest issue all campaign has been going too long too early as soon as games go against us, especially at home.
Two consecutive defeats have left Gillingham in the relegation battle alongside Argyle. Are you confident of avoiding the drop?
I’ve said all season that this squad has the natural talent to be higher than where we are right now (I predicted 11th in my season preview) but as I’ve already mentioned a lack of consistency keeps pegging us back. I do still think we’ll be fine (it’s in our hands after all) but it’s certainly got a little twitchier than it should have done having lost our last two after only three defeats in 11 prior to that.
Mark Byrne has described the fixture as Gills’ biggest of the season so far. Does it feel that way for the fans?
I think so, because just like last Saturday (we won’t talk about that) we know that one more big push, one more big performance and one more win should see us fine, but if this slips by and we don’t win on Easter Monday at Bradford then our last two are Charlton and Blackpool. Then it really will be squeaky bum time.
Are there any real weak links you’re worried about?
As I’ve already said, we are decent when we play the diamond with players in the correct positions. My big concern though is that aside from Billy Bingham (good but too injury prone) do we have a natural replacement at the base? Plenty have gone in there this season with varying degrees of success, and last week Steve Lovell abandoned it completely which ultimately cost us the game.
Which Argyle player, if any, would you like to sign?
I’ve liked Ruben Lameiras for a few seasons now, and mentioned him as someone I wanted us to perhaps target when his Coventry contract was up. He’s always been technically decent and created chances, and now he’s adding consistent goals to his game too.
What is your prediction for the game?
I have said on our match preview that if, and this can be a big if with us, we turn up and are having one of our good days then we will win.
If we don’t get out of the dressing room though, like last Saturday, you have the players to hurt us. I’ve gone for a nervy 1-0 Gills victory.