Home   Medway   Sport   Article

Gillingham manager Steve Evans expects striker John Akinde to receive a great reception at former club Lincoln City

Gillingham boss Steve Evans expects John Akinde to get a great reception on his Lincoln City return this weekend.

The Gills visit 15th-placed Lincoln on Saturday – less than a month after Akinde made a six-figure move to Priestfield.

The big striker is already a fans favourite in Kent and he had plenty of admirers at Sincil Bank after helping them win the League 2 title in 2018/19.

John Akinde challenges for the ball against a Southend man on Tuesday night. Picture: Ady Kerry
John Akinde challenges for the ball against a Southend man on Tuesday night. Picture: Ady Kerry

“Anyone going back to their old club loves to go back, don’t they?” said Evans.

“John has some wonderful memories at Lincoln City.

“If he hadn’t gone there, they wouldn’t have got out of League 2 the way they did, he was sensational for them.

“I’m sure he’ll get a brilliant reception and I’ll get my normal reception!”

Akinde faces a battle to keep his place in the Gills side, however, with competition hotting up.

Evans is not afraid to shuffle his pack – bringing Mikael Mandron into the starting line-up at Southend – and he was also impressed by Jordan Roberts’ performance.

“I don’t think John was at his best on Tuesday and he has some competition,” said Evans.

“Jordan Roberts did a job on the left for us because anyone who has watched Southend recently will know their right-hand side is a strong area for them in terms of attacking and getting at people.

“Jordan helped to stop that.

"He gave them more of a problem (than Southend’s players gave him).”

Evans has also spoken of his respect for Lincoln manager Michael Appleton ahead of the encounter.

Appleton took charge of the Imps in September following the departure of the Cowley brothers, Danny and Nicky, to Championship side Huddersfield.

In their first season in League 1, former Portsmouth and Blackburn boss Appleton appears on course to steer the side to safety, with Lincoln 15 points clear of the relegation zone.

“It’s a tough game,” said Evans, whose side are only four points adrift of the top six after extending their unbeaten league run to 14 games with Tuesday’s win at Southend.

“I have a lot of time and a lot of respect for their manager. I have a love-hate relationship with the Lincoln City fans.

“My daughter was at university there and I still have a house there that I rent out now because she went into it when she went to uni. But listen, they get right behind their team.

“Michael has gone in there as part of a plan to change the style they have had in recent times.

“He has implemented that very well.”

Appleton bolstered his ranks in January, bringing in the likes of striker Tyreece John-Jules on loan from Arsenal and defender Akeem Hinds, who had been released by Rotherham.

Evans added: “He has some brilliant, technical footballers.

“Two or three loan signings surprised everyone. The kid from Arsenal, everyone raised an eyebrow.

“But it will be very different from the Southend game for us. It will be very tough and we need to be significantly better.

“I said we had to be better on Tuesday than we were on Saturday (when beating Doncaster). I think we were probably about the same – poor for a while and then came on to our game.

“So, we need to be much better on Saturday from three o’clock.”

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More