Published: 06:00, 30 July 2021
Gillingham assistant manager Paul Raynor was thrilled captain Kyle Dempsey got to show his class infront of the fans on Tuesday night.
Dempsey was taken off at the break as a precaution but had already thumped in an effort from 20 yards to leave Championship side Millwall a goal down. It was the first time Gillingham fans had been inside Priestfield to see last summer’s recruit playing for their team.
“He is an outstanding player,” said the Gills no.2, on media duty while boss Steve Evans was busy with the chairman.
“I am sure our fans are going to absolutely love him, they will have watched him on ifollow or video, or whatever, and now they have seen him live I am sure it will have whetted the appetite for what he can produce along with a lot of the other guys as well.
“He is a quality player. When we signed him people were, saying, ‘what? A free transfer from Fleetwood?’ But we knew him, we had him at Peterborough, we know what he is about.
“He needs to be loved and we certainly love him here and I am sure he will have a great season again.”
Dempsey was taken off at the break but there were no issues, with Stuart O’Keefe getting on in his place. Raynor said: “He felt a little tight, he said he wanted to stay on, but we can’t take chances with these guys, they are extremely important to us.”
Dempsey tweeted post-match his delight to have scored infront of the fans, writing: “First time playing infront of the Gills fans and it was great! So good to have you supporters back to cheer us on. Topped off with getting a goal.”
Speaking about the fans’ return, after 515 days away, Raynor added: “It was great to have the fans back, that was absolutely brilliant, I am sure they will have enjoyed coming back to Priestfield, we have enjoyed having them.”
On those absent, Robbie McKenzie is recovering from an ankle injury while Ryan Jackson missed out after tweaking his hamstring at Colchester. David Tutonda has been absent since the Covid outbreak. John Akinde was an unused sub and Christian Maghoma wasn’t involved - both remain available for transfer.