Published: 06:00, 19 February 2021
Gillingham assistant manager Paul Raynor says he is gobsmacked to see the position weekend visitors Bristol Rovers have got themselves in this season.
Rovers spent big in the summer, with signings that included Gillingham pair Brandon Hanlan and Max Ehmer, but the team have struggled on the field, just two points clear of the relegation zone ahead of their trip to Priestfield.
Despite the problems and already looking for a third permanent manager of the season, they picked up a shock win on Tuesday, beating promotion-chasing Portsmouth 3-1. Director of football Tommy Widdrington is currently in charge on a caretaker basis and is likely to take the team on Saturday.
Raynor said: “They have many strengths and it was a real eye-opener to see the type of contracts they could put on the table for Max and Brandon. We couldn’t compete, we were desperate to keep them, they were fantastic for us, two great lads, great players, brilliant for us.
“We would have loved to have kept them but we got blown out of the water with the financial packages that Bristol Rovers put on the table.
“They have a strong squad. I am gobsmacked a squad of that standard and that quality are in the position it is at the moment, but Tommy showed with the side that he put out on Tuesday they can certainly put a performance in. They did that against a very good Portsmouth team.
“We are very wary of the qualities they have got but I am sure they will be wary of what we have got. We had a good victory at their place earlier in the season and so it’s game on.”
The Gills will be hoping to avoid the individual mistakes that proved costly in midweek against Peterborough, letting a 1-0 lead slip and losing 3-1. The visitors were allowed back in with an equalising goal after keeper Jack Bonham failed to hold a shot.
Raynor said: “It is about concentration, discipline and game awareness but you don’t think Jack Bonham is going to drop one, he has been fantastic for us, you can only put it down to a lapse of concentration and we get punished for it.
“We don’t track a runner for the second goal. It is that defensive awareness and nous to make sure we are more solid out of possession.”
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