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Gillingham midfielder Billy Bingham will be fit for Scunthorpe after the club avoided risking him at Slough

By Luke Cawdell

Billy Bingham was left out of Sunday’s FA Cup clash for fear of aggravating an injury on Slough’s 3G pitch.

Gillingham boss Steve Lovell has revealed several of the club’s players had trepidations about playing on the artificial surface.

Lovell said pre-match he had no concerns about the surface, going as far as to say it would suit them, but inside the changing room there were concerns and he took them on board.

Billy Bingham in action against Hartlepool in the FA Cup first round replay Picture: Ady Kerry
Billy Bingham in action against Hartlepool in the FA Cup first round replay Picture: Ady Kerry

Bingham has suffered with several injuries this season and has just returned to fitness.

Lovell said: “There is no point putting someone out there who is worried about getting injured or having a recurrence of an injury because of the surface.

“We felt there was no point playing him because he would have gone out and not run about.”

The Gills won the game 1-0, thanks to a wonder strike from Darren Oldaker but the performance wasn’t the best.

Gillingham had trained on an artificial surface last Friday, but despite that, some of the senior players didn’t enjoy the experience.

“The pitch affected them more mentally than anything,” said Lovell.

“We didn’t say much about it before the game, obviously. We didn’t want to hype it up, but we knew it was going to be a tough one. It was a slow pitch.

Gills boss Steve Lovell said leading scorer Tom Eaves didn't enjoy playing on Slough's pitch Picture: Ady Kerry
Gills boss Steve Lovell said leading scorer Tom Eaves didn't enjoy playing on Slough's pitch Picture: Ady Kerry

“The ball didn’t travel and it slowed the game down. They passed it slowly and we couldn’t get into our mode.

“I have watched the game again. I was quite critical of our boys in the way we handled or played it (in the post-match press conference) but looking at it again, we had a number of chances after going 1-0 up and we could have been two or three up.

“Had we taken those opportunities, we would have won it quite easily but at 1-0 it keeps them in the game.

“Tom (Eaves) didn’t enjoy playing on that surface, it didn’t suit him or Josh (Parker), but we knew we just had to get

through it.”

Some of the younger players were nervous before the Slough game, said manager Steve Lovell Picture: Ady Kerry
Some of the younger players were nervous before the Slough game, said manager Steve Lovell Picture: Ady Kerry

Lovell did acknowledge the quality of the opposition on the day, adding: “Slough were excellent and did their town proud but that is what you expect. They had nothing to lose.

“We expected a tough game and that’s what we got.”

Lovell feels the experience of the FA Cup exposure and fear of a cup shock for some of his younger players will serve them well.

He said: “Talking to some of the younger boys, like Elliott List and DJ (Darren Oldaker), I think they were quite nervous.

“They are young boys and it was the biggest game they have had in their short careers so far and you don’t realise it.

“You chuck them out there and say ‘go on, go out and play’ and you don’t realise how they are feeling.

“It is great they have come through that and they have experienced it and they will learn from it.”

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