Gillingham v Doncaster Rovers: The Opposition View – ‘Many Gills fans would be happy just to survive’

Gillingham manager Steve Lovell
Gillingham manager Steve Lovell

Doncaster Rovers have a lengthy road trip with which to follow-up Christmas as they visit at Gillingham side looking to push up the table over the festive period.

The Gills are hovering over the League One drop zone as they prepare to welcome Grant McCann’s side, so what are their prospects for the rest of the campaign.

We spoke to Kent Online’s Gillingham writer Luke Cawdell to get the lowdown on Steve Lovell’s side.

Q: How do you assess the season so far for Gillingham?

LC: It’s been mixed, they got off to a flyer with back to back wins but they struggled after picking up a number of injuries to key players.

In the last month the injuries have largely cleared up and that’s coincided with an upturn in results. 

Q:  What were the expectations for this campaign?

LC: There were hopes of making a push for the play-offs and a fully fit squad have shown they are capable of that and it’s not too late.

Many, however, would just be happy to survive and have another go next season. 

Q: The reverse fixture was a six goal thriller and there does seem to be plenty of goals in Gills' games. What do you put this down to?

LC: The manager doesn’t change his team’s set up for home or away games and he’ll always ask them to go and attack, whether they’re up against teams at the top or bottom. Sitting back isn’t his style.

They do try and press teams with high energy and that’s led to some open and entertaining matches, but not always the right result! 

Q: How is Steve Lovell viewed and what do you make of the job he's done?

LC: Gillingham’s chairman is on an ongoing hunt for investment to transform the club’s fortunes and until that happens they will always be up against it.

Most of the fans appreciate what the manager is working with and when they play well, it is good to watch.

They still chant his name at games and he is still well supported.

The inconsistency is frustrating but some of the football, especially early in the season, suggests he has put together a team that could do things at his level. 

Q: What is Lovell's preferred system and style of play?

LC: He prefers to play a 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond, with an emphasis on pressing teams.

He’s not afraid to change it though, often tinkering with several formations in a game.

He has the players to revert to the wing back system very quickly if needed. 

Q: Who are the danger men for Gillingham?

LC: Tom Eaves is the obvious one. He’s the club’s top scorer and has netted some special goals this season.

His height is an obvious asset but he’s got a great touch and a deadly finish. Josh Parker, who plays either alongside Eaves or behind the front two, has also found a bit of form.

Fellow forward Elliott List is the quickest player at the club and will look to run at defenders whenever he gets the chance.