Published: 06:00, 02 April 2021
by Eliot Goodyer
Gillingham midfielder Stuart O’Keefe was optimistic about his side’s play-off credentials after last night’s 1-0 victory over Wigan Athletic.
Vadaine Oliver’s 14th league goal of the season catapulted Gills into sixth spot – albeit temporarily with the rest of League 1 playing today (Friday).
O’Keefe commented on the play-off race and Wednesday's win over Wigan, saying: “I don’t think many teams fancy playing us – we’re a hard team to beat. A lot of teams will be taking note and keeping an eye on us.
“We did ride our luck at times, but we took our big chance and they didn’t.
“It was an excellent cross by Jacko [Ryan Jackson] and if you give the big man [Oliver] crosses like that, he will get you goals.”
When O’Keefe suffered a broken leg and ligament damage during September’s Carabao Cup clash with Coventry City, it was initially thought that he’d miss the remainder of the season. However, he made a speedy recovery and returned to action in January.
Since then, he’s been a mainstay in Steve Evans’s XI and has even been described as “an incredible specimen of a footballer” by his boss.
O’Keefe also mentioned that the lack of squad depth available to the manager could actually be proving beneficial.
He said: “We’re a small squad. We’re competing against teams with a lot bigger budgets and a lot bigger squads. But I think that might help us.
“We’re a very close-knit squad and everyone works so hard for each other. The team’s not really changing much hence why everyone knows their jobs and their roles and understands what’s required of them.”
Gills have a real crunch match ahead of them away to Blackpool on Monday.
Although they currently sit one place and one point above the Tangerines, Monday’s hosts have four games-in-hand.
O’Keefe insisted him and his team-mates are relaxed about the game and said: “It is a bit of a free hit. The pressure is on them – they’re at home. We’re in the top six [before Friday's games] and it’s down to them to break us down and beat us. We’re going there with no fear and no pressure and we’re really going to enjoy the occasion.”