Home   Medway   Sport   Article

Gillingham play top League 2 sides Northampton, Stockport, Leyton Orient, Bradford and Salford in final weeks of the season

Gillingham are all-but safe and now manager Neil Harris wants to see how his team cope against the leading contenders in League 2.

The Gills play five of the top eight in their last six matches - a spell of games that Harris will get to learn plenty from ahead of a summer where he’ll be looking to add more players ahead of a promotion push.

Gillingham fans enjoying another home win on Good Friday
Gillingham fans enjoying another home win on Good Friday

A trip to second-placed Northampton Town tomorrow (Monday) is the start of a tough run-in for the Gills and Harris said: “The last six games of the season, we can really attack, it is a huge challenge for us and what we have achieved so far in the last 17 games is magnificent, the best team in the league since we started (with a new-look team) in January.

“The next six games I am going to put into an isolated spell and see what we can achieve in that period, individually, performance wise and results wise, because it will help me and the football club to make a lot of decision moving forward as to what we maybe need to recruit in the summer window.”

Gills’ tough run continues next Saturday (April 15) against promotion chasing Stockport County at Priestfield before leaders Leyton Orient come to town on Tuesday, April 18 - possibly with the title within their grasp. Away games at play-off hopes Bradford City (April 22) and Salford City (May 8) conclude the season, with a home match against 17th place Newport County (April 29) sandwiched inbetween.

“Results show that we are competing in every game,” said the manager. “That is why I am really looking forward to the next six games, even Newport, they are a really good League 2 outfit. It is not just about the quality that they maybe lack, because they can’t afford to sign the top players financially, but they have a lot of League 2 knowhow and League 2 aggression, it is another challenge in a different way.

“These are the games I can’t wait for, that is the challenge now, challenging my group to say, ‘come on, what have we got heading towards next year?’

Shaun Williams challenges Zain Westbrooke for the ball as Gillingham take on Doncaster
Shaun Williams challenges Zain Westbrooke for the ball as Gillingham take on Doncaster

“We beat Carlisle, went to Stockport and got a hard earned point, but it is now about going to Northampton, playing Stockport and Orient at home, it is saying, ‘right, we have imposed ourselves on all nine games (at home this year) to win eight, let’s impose ourselves on the top teams.

“For me, it is competing against the better teams, against teams who are fighting for the top positions, and getting a view to where we need to be at next year to make sure we are in those places.”

Gills may be all-but safe but plenty of players will be trying to convince the manager they should be part of his plans next season as they embark on a promotion challenge.

“Professional pride comes into it,” said the manager. “Players know my demands and standards and they also know I am continually assessing them, even when I don’t take a training session I am on the training pitch and I am watching, the importance is that I am always watching what people are doing, body language, attitude to train, time keeping, discipline, everything like it goes into the mix.

“Gone are the days you have to worry about who is in what nightclub. That was when I was playing!

George Lapslie on as a substitute against Doncaster
George Lapslie on as a substitute against Doncaster

“I am always judging every day and it builds a picture in your mind so when it comes to decision time you have built that picture, not on a kneejerk reaction, you have built that picture over a period of time.

“I am always assessing and judging my players and that is why someone like myself has signed Shaun Williams and Aiden O’Brien, because over a period of time they are class acts, not just good players, but really good people off the pitch as well and that is why managers go back to players because when you are assessing over a period of time, you see people’s traits and want to work with them.”

The Gills are back to work today (Sunday) ahead of their Easter Monday trip to Northampton. They will head up there tonight to ensure they are well prepared.

“When the games fall so close together it is important we prepare correctly for another tongue challenge,” said the manager.

Defender Conor Masterson is currently being monitored following a bang to the face on Friday which forced him off. There was no loss of consciousness but the club will follow procedures before he gets the all-clear to play at Northampton.

Harris said: “If he fails those tests then it is a concussion issue, if he doesn’t fail those tests then he is fine to play Monday.”

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More