Published: 19:00, 08 September 2020
| Updated: 09:32, 09 September 2020
Trae Coyle capped an impressive first competitive start for Gillingham with a goal.
He scored Gillingham’s opener in a 2-1 win over Crawley Town in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday.
The Arsenal youngster had his pre-season interrupted with a slight injury but assistant boss Paul Raynor believes he’s come back in great shape.
“It has been a bit of a staggered pre-season for him,” said the Gills no.2.
“He came in and looked really sharp and then he got a little niggle in his thigh, went back to Arsenal for a few days and has come back reinvented and reinvigorated and he looked really sharp.
“There is more to come from him and we were really pleased with him.”
Coyle scored just before the break after a lovely interchange with another one of the Gills newboys, Jacob Mellis.
Gills know they have another talented player on their hands and he was another to have impressed, particularly in the first half.
Raynor said: “He is an incredibly talented footballer and you don’t play for the clubs that he has and play in the Champions League for Chelsea under Mourinho if you haven’t got any talent.
“He is very talented and if we can get him fit and if we can get him focussed and playing to his potential then he will be a massive asset for us. If we can get him on the ball he will make things happen and he did well.”
Gillingham’s second on Tuesday was scored by Vadaine Oliver early in the second half but Crawley created plenty of chances after going two down.
“It was a classic game of two halves,” Raynor said.
“We were magnificent first half, some of the play was excellent, we could and should have turned two or three up and then the tables turned a bit.
“Maybe there was a bit of fatigue, we allowed the game to become a bit too open and then we allowed Crawley too many chances, particularly at the end. It was a bit fraught but there were some tired legs and I think the guys will certainly benefit from the 90 minutes.
“It’s another win under the belt. We said to the boys that going into the Hull City game (the league opener on Saturday) we wanted performances, 90 minutes under their belts and two wins, and they delivered.
“There were some good things we’re pleased with, some things we need to work on, but that is in every game.”
Goals from Coyle and Oliver will be a boost for both players.
“Attacking players want to score goals don’t they?” Raynor commented.
“I started my career as a striker, didn’t score enough goals but certainly enjoyed them when I did. They will love the buzz of scoring a goal.
“It is a pity there was no crowd to see it but I am sure the guys sitting at home will have enjoyed those two finishes.
“Vadaine got his goal with an aggressive header, a good finish and a terrific cross from Jordan Graham as well.”
It was Graham’s first competitive return for the Gills since playing on loan last season. He missed the weekend Carabao Cup game through injury.
He was one of the standout performers first half.
“Jordan is the same (as Trae) in that he has had a little niggle and that was his first real run-out of any length. He got the left-back on toast first half, I wouldn’t have liked to have played against him.
“Jordan put in a good performance and there were good performances all round, Henry Woods played very well in the first period, as did Matty Willock, we just lost our way with the ball a little bit and gave them too many opportunities.”