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Gillingham face fellow play-off hopefuls Doncaster Rovers at Priestfield and boss Steve Evans knows just how big a game it is

It’s game on for Gillingham after their dramatic stoppage-time winner at Blackpool.

Brandon Hanlan’s late goal saw the Gills grab a 3-2 victory on Tuesday and edged them a point closer to the play-off places.

Jordan Roberts challenges with Blackpool's Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall Picture: Ady Kerry
Jordan Roberts challenges with Blackpool's Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall Picture: Ady Kerry

Steve Evans’ side are now up to 11th – seven points outside the top six.

One of the teams standing in their way are Doncaster and the Yorkshire side visit Priestfield on Saturday.

Evans, whose side are now 12 games unbeaten in League 1, said: “What you can’t do, and I have said it to the boys, you can’t get to May and watch the play-offs and say ‘what if’ and say that we are better than them.

“Ifs don’t count. We need to average two points and in our last two we have got four points.

Gillingham's pre-match briefing with assistant boss Paul Raynor Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham's pre-match briefing with assistant boss Paul Raynor Picture: Ady Kerry

“Saturday is really big because us and Doncaster are in a similar position. We both can strike, or can slip away.

“I can’t give our dressing room any more plaudits than I do. We went for a lesser-sized squad, we risked it, it’s biting us at the moment. We have a few niggles and one or two illnesses but we came through it.

“I would rather have 15-18 quality players than have 24 with 10 of them who shouldn’t be in the club at League 1 level.

“We are trying to do it against the grain but we have had brilliant support in the transfer window.

Brandon Hanlan celebrates his winning goal Picture: Ady Kerry
Brandon Hanlan celebrates his winning goal Picture: Ady Kerry

“We are talking to one or two (free agent) players now. One or two are expecting us to break the budget but we won’t do it. I won’t do it, the chairman wouldn’t allow it.

“We just have to get back on the training ground, regroup and be ready for Doncaster.”

Rovers are five points better off than the Gills and beat Bolton 2-1 on Tuesday.

They’ve already tasted defeat at Priestfield this season, losing 3-0 in the FA Cup second round in December.

Another big game ahead for the Gills this weekend Picture: Ady Kerry
Another big game ahead for the Gills this weekend Picture: Ady Kerry

Evans said: “Darren Moore (their manager) has done a brilliant job. He has got them playing the way he wants them to.

“It’s a different Doncaster team to the one we played in the FA Cup and the league (1-1 draw on the opening day).

“They have some outstanding players and a good manager, a Championship – if not a Premier League – manager. He will have them organised and will have done his homework on us.

“We just need to have a bit of a rallying call on Thursday, make sure we get as many players available as we can.

John Akinde scored his first for the Gills on Tuesday Picture: Ady Kerry
John Akinde scored his first for the Gills on Tuesday Picture: Ady Kerry

“One or two who were down in terms of illness will hopefully be back available. If we do that then we will have better options.”

Olly Lee was on the bench on Tuesday but had been ill leading up to the game while Matty Willock was also named among the substitutes after a tough game at Burton last weekend.

Alfie Jones was left at home, with Evans saying: “If it was the last game of the season we could have played him. He was desperate to get on the coach but I had to shout at him.

“It isn’t very often I shout at Alfie Jones, but he has a real big chance of being fit for Saturday.

“We need one or two of these kids back and back fresh again. Matty Willock could have played but he was absolutely in bits after playing on Saturday. He was tight everywhere, even his arm pits.”

More on the Gills;

Blackpool v Gillingham in pictures

Goalscoring pals have the last laugh

"I'd kiss them all! - boss on Gills fans


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