Johnny Moore asks Luke Cawdell from Kent Online to run the rule over the Gills
Q: Steve Evans recently wrote off the club’s play-off hopes, but do their performances warrant such an outlook?
A: Sometimes yes, sometimes no! That inconsistency has held them back and it’s difficult to know which team will show up from one half to the next.
In the past few games we’ve seen marked differences from one 45 to the next. At Wimbledon on Tuesday even the manager admitted it looked like two relegated teams were playing football.
Evans has had to make changes to personnel and formation in their past two matches and performances improved on both occasions.
Last Saturday, the Gills kicked on in the second half against Bristol Rovers and won 2-0. They did the same against Wimbledon, but unfortunately didn’t test the home keeper enough and were stung by an 89th-minute goal which won it for the home side. It’s left Evans to accept the play-off hopes are over.
Q: What were the aspirations before a ball was kicked this term?
A: They did well last season to end up sitting 10th in League One and weren’t too far away from the play-offs. There were hopes of improving on that, but there was a rebuild job in the summer when so many players left.
A push for the play-offs was the target and it’s still not impossible, but the Wimbledon defeat was a huge blow and it’s likely that now the focus will be on getting the best out of the current squad and seeing whether they can improve on last year’s efforts.
Q: Has performing at an empty Priestfield had a negative effect on results?
A: There have definitely been games where you would think the home crowd at Priestfield would have helped. When the big stand behind the goal, the Rainham End, is full and vocal, it can really make a difference towards the end of a game when the team are pushing for a goal.
There can be a decent atmosphere at the ground and I’m sure there are players who would have got a kick from it. I certainly think they may have contributed to a few more goals and a few more rousing finishes, so it’s definitely been a negative to have the ground empty.
Q: Who are the in-form players likely to pose Pompey problems this afternoon?
A: Midfielder Kyle Dempsey has got better as the season has gone on and is loving the chance to get among the goals. He’s netted six times this season and is a skipper that leads by example.
He demands the best from himself and expects others to follow, and recently spoke out about how much he’s enjoying his football again this season.
Jordan Graham out on the wing has been troubled by injury recently, but when he’s on song there can’t be many better in League One. He likes getting at people and putting balls into the box and has scored a few himself. He’s joint leading scorer with Vadaine Oliver.
Q: Will Gillingham be targeting a win at Fratton Park today?
A: Definitely – and they have nothing to lose. It’s highly unlikely the Gills will be dragged into relegation trouble so they will be going for it, hopefully, particularly after the defeat to lowly Wimbledon in midweek.
Gillingham have had some good results at Fratton Park in the league over the past few years and there is no reason they can’t get another.
The Gills surprised many with a win at Charlton recently and returned from Sunderland with a point at the end of January. It’s a team that is certainly capable of a win if they perform like they can do.