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Gillingham host Shrewsbury Town at Priestfield ahead of two more home games against Oxford United and Crewe Alexandra as the club fight for survival in League 1


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Gillingham are facing a crucial run of home fixtures starting with the visit of Shrewsbury Town tonight.

The midweek visitors are 18th in the table and the Gills follow it up with a weekend game against Oxford United at Priestfield before hosting third from bottom Crewe next Tuesday. It’s a run of games caretaker boss Steve Lovell knows are massive.

Ben Reeves and Stuart O'Keefe netted for Gillingham at Wigan Picture: KPI
Ben Reeves and Stuart O'Keefe netted for Gillingham at Wigan Picture: KPI

Lovell is expected to be still in charge of the team as Bromley boss Andy Woodman indicated he was staying with the National League side despite interest from the Gills. His club wanted compensation for the loss of their manager and his staff which Gillingham chairman Paul Scally may feel is better spent elsewhere.

Mr Scally has continued to talk with potential managers with former Millwall assistant Marc Bircham the favourite with the bookies. Former player Michael Flynn is an outside bet that would be a popular choice while ex-Cardiff City boss Neil Harris is understood to have been contacted about the job.

Mr Scally will have an inbox full of CVs but Lovell will be hoping he gets a few more games to show that he deserves a second crack at the job. The players seem keen for him to stay on.

Gillingham are heading into tonight’s game sitting bottom of League 1 after a 3-2 loss at Wigan. The Gills are on a terrible run of form, without a win since October 19 when they beat fellow strugglers Doncaster Rovers.

“We have to get points, obviously, but that will come through performances,” said Lovell, who was boosted with an impressive second-half showing at Wigan.

“We are not going to get points on the first-half performance but second half, with the shape that we played and the way we played, we will get wins and points and it is something we can take into the next game. We can get the first three points and then build on that.

“Tuesday is the start for us, we have to now, the next three home games are massive for us points wise, we need to pick up maximum points in the next three games.

“We have had 90 minutes of really good football over the last two games (the first half against Burton and the second at Wigan) and now we have to put 90 into one game. If we do that in the games coming up we will win the games, no doubt about it.”

Lovell favours a diamond formation in midfield but changed that from the off at Wigan. Only when they returned to his preferred system did they get back into the game.

The caretaker boss said: “I am confident with the players that we have got that we can play this way, it has been proved against the top team in the league.

“My best formation is a diamond, with two forwards and a no.10 and second half it happened, they performed brilliantly but I am so gutted to concede that goal at the end [Gills had fought back from 2-0 down to 2-2, only to concede a third and lose it 3-2], they were devastated. They were all so pleased with the way we played second half and again it is only one half, but they can only do what is put infront of them and that was put infront of them second half and they did it.”

Fans are currently voting with their feet at Priestfield, with crowds down to just above the 4,000 mark for home support. Lovell knows those still attending need a lift.

“They need something to cheer about,” said Lovell. “We need to put on a 90-minute performance to give them something to cheer about, something the be happy about, come the end of the game on Tuesday.”

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