Bristol Rovers v Gillingham Match Preview

By Simon Gray

After a week off from League One football, Bristol Rovers are back in action, this time against Gillingham.

Rovers have enjoyed a successful break off the field, with both manager Darrell Clarke and striker Matty Taylor picking up prizes at the Bristol Post Sports Awards. Clarke received the honour of ‘Coach of the Year’, with Taylor scooping the ‘Male Sports Personality of the Year award’ as well as the ‘Professional Sports Personality of the Year award’.

Rovers go into Saturday’s match in 11th place, three positions above opponents Gillingham but with just one point separating the two sides, this match is set to be a close encounter.

Gillingham, who lost last week at then bottom of the table Oldham Athletic have won just one match in seven and have lost their last three but Rovers boss Darrell Clarke has urged his players not to underestimate The Gills.

“Form can be misleading, Bolton hadn’t won in seven games before last Saturday but they are in the top six,” Clarke told the Bristol Post.

“The fact of the matter is that Gillingham currently have only one point less than we do. It just goes to show the competitive nature of the league.

“You can go five or six games without winning and quite easily win two or three on the bounce to turn everything on its head.

“This division is going to be very tight, the teams at the bottom are more than capable of beating those at the top.

“I don’t think you can use the league table as any sort of guide as to how strong any of the teams can be. It is going to be that sort of season I think.”

Even though his team are in a rough patch of form, Gillingham manager Justin Edinburgh is adamant that he can turn things around.

“We are still not in a horrendous position, as much as people want to be negative, as a manager I will remain positive,” he told Kentonline.

“You have to be realistic of Gillingham and what we are as a club.

“A lot of clubs who have come up and gone down have got big resources, a lot of clubs have bigger resources.

“It doesn’t stop us having a desire and a want and a will to try and do better than what we are really capable of.”

Team news for Rovers suggests that they will check on Tom Lockyer, Jake Clarke-Salter, Connor Roberts and Ellis Harrison after the four players returned recently from international duty.

Striker Jermaine Easter will serve the second of his three-match suspension but Matty Taylor is now fully fit after the international break.

Team news for The Gills is that striker Rory Donnelly is suspended but on-loan goalkeeper Jonathan Bond is back ready to fight Stuart Nelson for the number one spot.

They are also set to assess midfielder Billy Knott before travelling down to the South West.

Full-back Bradley Garmston (knee), defender Aaron Morris (knee) and midfielder Lee Martin (ankle) are all out.


Rovers have lost four of their last five matches against The Gills with the away side coming out 2-0 winners on their last visit to the Memorial Stadium.

The last time Rovers beat The Gills came in November 2009 where a Jeff Hughes penalty helped them secure a 2-1 win.

In that game, Rovers midfielder Chris Lines also scored. Saturday will be his 210th appearance for Rovers although this is over two permanent spells and one loan spell.

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