Published: 06:00, 06 January 2020
Gillingham’s big night in the FA Cup ended in defeat but manager Steve Evans believes the club has plenty to look forward to.
Priestfield was packed for the third round match, with close to 11,000 inside the ground, including many fans who may not have seen much of the Gills for some time.
Evans said: “I think it shows you what potential there is at Gillingham Football Club, whether it’s at Priestfield or a new stadium if the chairman gets the investment he desires.
“There would be a lot of clubs that would play West Ham and not get anywhere near, not just the numbers, but the atmosphere which we created right up until when they scored the second goal (in stoppage-time).”
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A crowd of 10,913 was close to the sell-out attendance of 11,172 when the Gills clinched the League 2 title against AFC Wimbledon.
Evans will be hoping more fans will be encouraged back now after a great effort against the Premier League visitors on Sunday night.
He said: “I think it shows you the potential that Gillingham Football Club has in Kent, as the only professional club. There is the opportunity to have that every week here.
“West Ham turned up in maximum numbers they could have and they helped create a bit of an atmosphere before the game. They were very quiet for the entire first half and they really came alive when they scored but you would love that to be here every week.
“We can only thank the supporters for turning out and supporting the boys the way they did. We hope we have gained a few friends that will come back.”
Fans through the turnstiles will help Evans bring in that extra quality he desires.
He said: “With have a budget where we have to construct a different type of team and a lot of that has to be about effort, commitment and passion, as well as sometimes being able to play.
“If we get a result Saturday (at Peterborough) we could end up in the play-off places and that is down to the playing staff for giving us everything they have got. We expect that because they know the minimum is to give us everything.
“The players are doing fantastic for us and now we have an opportunity (during the January transfer window) to bring two or three players in, to help the group, to add a little more quality and we’ll see if we can do the unthinkable and get in that top seven.”
More by this authorLuke Cawdell