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MATCH PREVIEW: Swindon Town vs Gillingham

Town welcome Gills in County Ground showdown…

27 January 2023

Club News

MATCH PREVIEW: Swindon Town vs Gillingham

Town welcome Gills in County Ground showdown…

27 January 2023

After two successive postponements, we finally return to League Two action this weekend with the visit of Gillingham to SN1.

The two sides had to settle for a goalless draw last time they met at the beginning of September, and both head into Saturday’s showdown off the back of important wins in their last fixtures.

Here’s some insight into The Gills ahead of the big one…

The lowdown…

The Gills are currently the only Kent-based club in the EFL.

The club was originally formed as New Brompton Football Club in 1893, but this changed to Gillingham in 1912.

Following World War Two, The Gills won a local cup double as they picked up both the Southern League and League championship.

They won the league title in 1949, and despite finishing level on points with Carlisle in 1964, they won their first ever Championship thanks to their superior goal average.

However, after relegation to the Fourth Division in 1971, the club swiftly returned to the third tier in 1974.

It was a level the Kent outfit would remain at for quite some time. They challenged regularly at the top of the table, coming close to promotion in 1987, losing the play-off final to Swindon.

During this period, The Gills set a Football League record when they thrashed Chesterfield 10-0, but their fortunes would soon suffer a sharp downturn with relegations leaving them battling demotion to the Conference in 1993.

But a young Tony Pulis soon steadied the ship and guided them back to the Third Division in 1996.

The club were just seconds away from the Championship, only to surrender a two goal lead in a remarkable 1999 play-off final against Manchester City.

However, the following season they vanished the ghosts of the previous campaign by beating Wigan in the play-off final, reaching the Championship for the first time.

While at that level, The Gills would achieve their highest ever league finish of eleventh.

Relegation followed in 2005 and 2009, and Gillingham found themselves in the basement division of the EFL.

Another play-off success came in 2009 with the club beating Shrewsbury in the final to return to League One, but after failing to win a single away match that season, The Gills were again demoted to League Two.

In 2013, the club earned just their second league title as they conquered League Two. They’d remain a League One club until last season, when a twenty-first placed finish saw the club relegated once again.

DID YOU KNOW?: Gillingham produced future stars Steve Bruce and Tony Cascarino after acquiring then from non-league Crockenhill in exchange for a set of tracksuits.

The Manager: Neil Harris

Gillingham’s gaffer is synonymous with his time at Millwall both as a player and a manager.

The 45-year-old first appeared for The Lions in 1998, and in his first full season, picked up the club’s Player of the Year Award.

In 2001, Harris earned the golden boot, but his career was disrupted following a diagnosis or testicular cancer, and after making a full recovery, the forward moved on from the club he’d netted 93 times for.

However, he returned to The Den in 2007 after spells with Cardiff and Nottingham Forest. Two years later, he became the club’s all-time goal scorer.

He’d later take the manager’s job in The Den dugout, where he guided the club to the Championship.

Harris became the Gillingham boss in January 2022, after leaving Cardiff City.

Players to Watch…

Glenn Morris

The 39-year-old recently turned his loan deal from Crawley into a permanent deal at the Priestfield Stadium.

The stopper spent the first half of the campaign on loan at The Broadfield Stadium where he represented The Red Devils 269 times across seven campaigns.

During his stay in West Sussex, Morris won the club’s Player of the Season Award on four occasions.

He started his career with Leyton Orient, making his debut in 2001, and in total, 150 of his 555 career appearances came at Brisbane Road.

David Tutonda

The Congolese full-back netted the winner last time out against Colchester United, and began life with Cardiff City, where a loan move to Newport brought both his senior debut and first senior goal.

After failing to make an appearance for The Bluebirds, the 27-year-old put pen to paper with Barnet in 2017.

While representing The Bees, Tutonda made 113 outings scoring on five occasions.

After a short stint with Bristol Rovers, the defender became a Gillingham player in June 2021.

Max Ehmer

The German is in his third spell at the Priestfield Stadium.

After progressing through the QPR ranks where he’d go on to make just one first-team appearance, he embarked on several loan moves, taking him to the likes of Yeovil, Preston, and Gillingham.

Upon leaving Loftus Road, the defender joined Gillingham where he’d be handed the captain’s armband and make 250 appearances.

In 2020, he switched his alliances to Bristol Rovers, where he’d make 33 outings before re-joining The Gills in 2021.

Alex MacDonald

The experienced Scot made his professional debut in 2008 for Burnley.

However, game time for the winger was restricted to just 17 appearances over the course of six campaigns.

During his tenure at Turf Moor, the 32-year-old found regular minutes on loan at the likes of Inverness, Plymouth, and Burton.

In 2015, and after the expiration of his contract at Burnley, Macdonald put pen to paper with Burton, joining on a permanent basis.

He’d go on to register 83 appearances for the club before switching his loyalties to Oxford United, and after plying his trade at the Kassam Stadium for three seasons, he joined Mansfield, where he’d make over a century of appearances for The Stags before heading to Gillingham in 2020.

Shaun Williams

The veteran played under Neil Harris during a seven year spell at Millwall, where he racked up 290 appearances for The Lions, helping the club to promotion in 2017.

Prior to his time with the London outfit, Williams represented MK Dons for three seasons, and in 2013, he won both the club’s Player of the Year and Player’s Player awards.

Before moving to England, the 35-year-old played in his native Ireland.

In 2017, aged 31, he’d make his debut for The Republic of Ireland against France, and would later go on to score for his country in a fixture against Wales.

Before joining Gillingham, the defensive midfielder spent last season on the south coast with Portsmouth.

Tom Nichols

Having only joined Gillingham this month, it’s been a dream start for the 29-year-old at Priestfield, having netted twice in his first two appearances for the club.

The forward arrived from Crawley, where over the course of 109 games, the striker scored an impressive 29 times.

While with the West Sussex outfit, he picked up the 2021 edition of the club’s Player of the Year Award.

During his career, the attacker is mostly synonymous with his time at hometown club Exeter.

After joining The Grecians aged just 17, he went on to score on 34 occasions over the course of 110 games, including a goal against Liverpool in an FA Cup third-round tie in 2016.

Ollie Hawkins

Standing tall at six-foot six-inches tall, the versatile 30-year-old can be deployed as both a number nine and a centre-half.

His roots in the game can be traced back to his time in non-league with North Greenford United.

Stints with Northwood and Hemel Hempstead Town enabled him to earn a move into the EFL with Dagenham and Redbridge, and after leaving here, Hawkins would go on to enjoy a fruitful spell with Portsmouth.

During his tenure at Pompey, he made 96 appearances, scoring 18 times and winning the penalty to claim the 2019 EFL Trophy.

Spells at Ipswich and Mansfield would later follow.

 


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