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Gillingham v Burton Albion at the Medway Priestfield Stadium (Saturday, 3pm)

By Luke Cawdell

Team news;

Gillingham boss Steve Lovell has named an unchanged starting eleven for today’s match against Burton Albion.

The only change for the Gills is on the bench, where Alex Lacey returns from injury to replace Aaron Simpson.

Lovell’s men will wear their 125th anniversary kit for the home match, celebrating 125 years of football with a black and white striped shirt to replicate the jerseys worn by New Brompton back when the club was formed in 1893.

Fans attending the game will also receive a special commemorative certificate.

Gillingham: Holy, O'Neill, Garmston, Ehmer, Zakuani, Bingham, Byrne, Parrett, Charles-Cook, Hanlan, Parker. Subs: Hadler, Lacey, Eaves, Fuller, Nasseri, Nash, Stevenson.

Burton: Bywater, Brayford, McFadzean, Turner, Fraser, Sbarra, Atkins, Fox, McCrory, Sordell, Boyce. Subs: Campbell, Buxton, Templeton, Harness, Hutchinson, Hodge.

Preview;

Gillingham will be hoping for more of the same after kicking their season off with a win at Accrington last weekend.

It’s a first game at home for the Gills this season as they welcome Burton Albion to Kent.

Gillingham manager Steve Lovell and assistant Mark Patterson plot Accrington's downfall on Saturday Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham manager Steve Lovell and assistant Mark Patterson plot Accrington's downfall on Saturday Picture: Ady Kerry

The Brewers were relegated from the Championship last season and haven’t started the new campaign well.

Their manager Nigel Clough is chasing new faces on the loan market to try and bolster a slender squad while smarting from an opening day defeat.

Burton lost 2-1 at home to Rochdale, a team who survived relegation to League 2 last season by the skin of their teeth, suffering defeat despite having many more shots on goal than the visitors.

Form;

Gillingham: Accrington (a) W 2-0

Burton: Rochdale (h) L 1-2

Head to head;

Gills wins: 4 Draws: 1 Burton wins: 4

Last meeting at Priestfield;

Gillingham 0 Burton 3

The turning point in the last meeting at Priestfield as captain Doug Loft is given a red card by referee James Linington Picture: Barry Goodwin
The turning point in the last meeting at Priestfield as captain Doug Loft is given a red card by referee James Linington Picture: Barry Goodwin

Gillingham had gone 10 home league games unbeaten before losing to a visiting Burton team in December 2015.

Albion, who had just appointed Nigel Clough before the match, were top of the League 1 table at the time and they took full advantage of Doug Loft’s dismissal for the Gills, in the opening half.

Damien McCrory put Albion ahead just before the hour mark and two late goals sealed the win against Justin Edinburgh’s side. Clough wasn’t there to see it though, as he was on a prior engagement.

Last time out;

Accrington 0 Gillingham 2

Gillingham's Brandon Hanlan challenges with Accrington's Seamus Conneely Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham's Brandon Hanlan challenges with Accrington's Seamus Conneely Picture: Ady Kerry

Gillingham kicked off their League 1 campaign with a win at Accrington.

Goals from Brandon Hanlan and Josh Parker put the Gills two goals ahead after a dominant first half.

Steve Lovell’s men defended well after the break, sitting on their 2-0 advantage, to ensure the three points returned home with victory over last season’s League 2 champions.

Click here to see a selection of Ady Kerry’s pictures from Accrington.

Read the reaction;

Steve Lovell - it could have been more

Brandon Hanlan - A great opening day

Weekend match officials;

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

EReferee Lee Probert leads the Gills out at Priestfield against Northampton in November 2016, alongside the Royal Engineers. Picture: Andy Jones
EReferee Lee Probert leads the Gills out at Priestfield against Northampton in November 2016, alongside the Royal Engineers. Picture: Andy Jones

It’s a step down for experienced referee Lee Probert on his first game this season after being a regular in the Premier League for a number of years.

His last game at Priestfield was in November 2016, for Gills’ 2-1 win over Northampton, a match where his cards stayed in his pocket.

In his first game of the previous season he sent two players off, one for each side as Portsmouth hosted Rochdale in League 1.

Assistants: Anthony Da Costa and Andrew Garratt / Fourth Official: Graham Kane

More on the Gills;

Manager happy with squad ahead of transfer deadline

Gills must wait for Egan money - Scally

Gillingham FC 2018-19 Season.Accrington Stanley vs Gillingham, 4th August 2018.Steve Lovell makes a point to the 4th official Joe Johnson. (3519166)
Gillingham FC 2018-19 Season.Accrington Stanley vs Gillingham, 4th August 2018.Steve Lovell makes a point to the 4th official Joe Johnson. (3519166)

Lovell wants better communication with match officials

Manager rules out return of popular striker

Newboys delight boss Lovell

Team news;

Callum Reilly hopes to be fit for the weekend Picture: Andy Payton
Callum Reilly hopes to be fit for the weekend Picture: Andy Payton

Gillingham have a number of injured players closing in on a return.

Midfielder Callum Reilly is one of them after being left out last weekend with a hamstring strain. Manager Steve Lovell told the press on Thursday that he is another week away from selection.

Tom Eaves made the bench for the opening game, after recovering from an ankle injury. He played and scored in a reserve game against Oxford on Tuesday, firing home into the top corner.

Conor Wilkinson, Elliott List and Alex Lacey are all back in training but summer signing Josh Rees is still a couple of weeks away from making his competitive Gills debut.

One to watch - Liam Boyce;

Northern Ireland striker Boyce joined Albion last summer but his season was scuppered before it began, suffering a serious knee injury in pre-season.

He scored on his return, in their 3-2 defeat at Aston Villa in February, but it wasn’t until the final month of the campaign where he showed just what he could do, after reaching peak fitness.

Burton Mail reporter Joshua Murray said: “He is a proven goalscorer in the Scottish Premiership, but it is his all-round attacking play and control which mark him down as a crucial figure for Burton this season.”

He joined Burton from Ross County where he had scored 48 goals from 80 league starts.

Boyce scored last weekend in Burton’s 2-1 home defeat to Rochdale.

Familiar face - Stephen Bywater;

Keeper Stephen Bywater looks back at Gills' defenders after scoring an own-goal against Swindon Picture: Barry Goodwin
Keeper Stephen Bywater looks back at Gills' defenders after scoring an own-goal against Swindon Picture: Barry Goodwin

Well-travelled keeper Bywater, now 37, played 14 games for the Gills during a loan spell at the club.

He came in as cover for Stuart Nelson following an injury, joining from Millwall at the start of the 2014/15 season.

Bywater kept a clean sheet on his debut, against Yeovil, but will unfortunately be remembered for scoring a last-minute own-goal against Gills’ old rivals Swindon, fumbling a cross into his own net. The game ended 2-2.

From the opposition camp;

Burton manager Nigel Clough Picture: Barry Goodwin
Burton manager Nigel Clough Picture: Barry Goodwin

Burton boss Nigel Clough has warned that it will take until the end of August to get a settled squad.

His pre-season preparations have been hampered by injury, leading the club to cancel one of their friendlies due to lack of numbers.

One of their players, Matty Lund, departed before the weekend for Scunthorpe United, a move that Clough said 'frees up a space and a wage.'

The Burton boss is hoping to bring loanees in to reinforce their squad after a quiet deadline day on Thursday.

He said: “We think it will be the end of August before we have a settled squad. We have injuries that means some people have missed pre-season and are a little bit behind.

“I think our business will be in loans between now and the end of the month. We have another three or four weeks to do that and we will keep asking questions about whether we can have this player or that player as we have been doing over the last few weeks.

“But we are pretty happy with the team that finished the match on Saturday.”

Fancy a flutter?

Gillingham are 7/5 favourites to win on Saturday with SkyBet. It’s 9/4 for the draw and 2/1 for a Burton win.

Burton won 3-0 on their last visit to Priestfield and it’s 33/1 for them to repeat that.

It’s 3/1 for a Gillingham win and another clean sheet.

For comprehensive coverage of the Gills get the Medway Messenger, out Mondays and Thursdays.

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