Gillingham defender Max Ehmer will have a job on his hands this weekend with the task of keeping Kent-born hitman Alfie May quiet.
Ehmer was recalled to the starting line-up on Tuesday night and, after helping the side to a win and a clean sheet against Wimbledon, he’s a sure bet to be starting again when the Gills face Charlton in the FA Cup second round on Saturday.
The experienced Gills defender - now on over 370 appearances for the club - remembers the time May came in for a trial while smashing in the goals for non-league Hythe - and always knew he had something about him.
May was 23 when he had a trial at the Gills back in 2016, also trying out at Stevenage and Doncaster, and it was the Yorkshire side who eventually took a gamble on the striker. Now 30, having chosen to sign for Charlton over the Gills in the summer, he’s been banging them in, with 17 to his name already this term.
Ehmer said: “He’s always been a goalscorer, sharp, good movement.
“I remember when he came here a while back on trial. Dacky (Bradley Dack) was here and he knew him from the area so it was years ago! He was only young, well he was small, so he looked young!
“He is a good player, Alfie. He was a finisher. I can’t remember for what reason he didn’t sign, whether we had too many strikers at the time.
“The front boys there score goals, and they score goals for a reason, because they are good players.
“It will be good (to go up against him) and you just have to make sure you concentrate for 90-95 minutes but they will also be a threat from set-pieces, they play good football, we need to make sure that defensively we are sound and when we go down the other end we are clinical.”
Charlton are pushing towards the play-off places in League 1, while the Gills sit a division below, but Ehmer sees no reason why they can’t get a result and he’s confident they can.
He said: “It will be a good game, we have to make sure we bring our A game and I am confident we can beat them.
“There is always a respect, you respect whoever you play, but it will be a tough game, we are certainly confident we can do the business.
“Probably 95% of the squad here has played in league 1 or higher and in those terms we are not fearful of who we are playing against, but you do have to respect them because they play in the league above at the moment.
“But we know that within League 1 and 2 there is not a massive difference, there are just those finer little details that can cost you in games.”
Ehmer’s been involved in some big FA Cup games for the Gills in recent years, including Leicester City and West Ham fixtures. Ironically the season May came for a trial at the Gills, the German defender was in the team which lost at Brackley.
That’s not a game he’ll look to remember but there are plenty he does.
He said: “I was injured for the Cardiff match but there was the West Ham one and I know it was a different cup but against Wolves, but those sort of games are the ones that come the end of your career you remember. They were great games.
“Brackley would definitely be the low. As footballers, those are the hardest games because you are expected to win, like the Hereford game (in the first round this season), everyone is expecting you to win. If you win, nobody says anything because it’s expected.”
“When you come up against the likes of West Ham, or one of the bigger teams, the pressure if off you and they have to do what we have had to do against Hereford.
“(Beating Charlton) would be massive, we just have to concentrate on our jobs and come the final whistle hopefully we have got the job done. It would be a massive result and then interesting to see who we get in the third round.”
With so many games behind him at Gillingham, Ehmer admits he doesn’t keep a count, but said: “I know I went above Hess in terms of all-time appearances but I don’t know where I am now if I am honest!
“I haven’t played the last few weeks (until starting on Tuesday) but if I can keep playing then it means I am doing something right, I will just see where I am at the end of it rather than keeping a total as we go.
“I have loved my time here and I just want to keep adding to those appearances and, most importantly, keep putting in good performances.”