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Match preview: Rotherham United v Gillingham (New York Stadium, Saturday 3pm)

By Luke Cawdell

Steve Lovell takes charge of the fourth league game of his caretaker spell.

He’s continued to name a settled side, with just one change to his starting XI for the trip to Rotherham.

Bradley Garmston comes in at left-back, adding pace down that flank, to replace Connor Ogilvie.

Luke O’Neill is back from injury, recovering from a hamstring strain, but Sean Clare will continue to operate that side of Gills’ defence.

Victory for the Gills could take them out of the bottom four for the first time since mid-September. Anything less and they could finish the weekend at the foot of League 1.

Rotherham: Rodak, Cummings, Ihiekwe, Wood, Mattock, Williams, Potter, Towell, Newell, Forde, Moore. Subs: O'Donnell, Emmanuel, Ajayi, Ball, Taylor, Clarke-Harris, Yates.

Gillingham: Holy, Clare, Garmston, Ehmer, Zakuani, Bingham, Hessenthaler, Martin, Parker, Eaves, List. Subs: O’Neill, Nelson, Wagstaff, Wilkinson, Ogilvie, Cundle, Byrne.

Preview;

Gillingham will need to be at their best to stop Rotherham making it six league wins on the bounce at home this weekend.

The Millers sit fifth in the League 1 table, well in the promotion mix, as they look to make an instant return to the Championship.

Not only do Rotherham boast an impressive home record, they also have the division's leading scorer in their ranks, with giant-sized front man Kieffer Moore netting 11 league goals already.

Steve Lovell Picture: Andy Payton
Steve Lovell Picture: Andy Payton

It's a big ask for the Gills, still under the guidance of caretaker manager Steve Lovell, but confidence is high in the team despite their perilous position, sitting just a point and a place off the bottom of the table.

Lovell has got the team playing on the front foot and despite a set-back last weekend, with defeat to Northampton, the Gills will feel they can still pull off a shock at the New York Stadium.

Head to head;

Gills wins 23, draws 15, Rotherham wins 18

League form;

Gillingham (23rd): Rotherham L 1-2 (H), Wigan D 1-1 (H), Peterborough W 1-0 (A), Portsmouth L 0-1 (H), Blackburn L 0-1 (A), Scunthorpe D 0-0 (H).

Rotherham (5th): Oxford D 3-3 (A), Wimbledon L 1-3 (A), Scunthorpe W 2-0 (H), Rochdale W 1-0 (A), Northampton W 1-0 (H), Blackburn L 0-2 (A).


Stat Attack

Click here for appearances, goals, discipline, ratings and profiles


The last meeting at the New York Stadium

Rotherham United 4 Gillingham 1

Keeper Stuart Nelson frustrated after conceding another goal Picture: Barry Goodwin
Keeper Stuart Nelson frustrated after conceding another goal Picture: Barry Goodwin

Gillingham were thrashed the last time they paid Rotherham a visit.

The Gills were three down by half-time during the League 1 meeting back in November 2013.

Ben Pringle, who has since moved on, was the main man that day, scoring their third of the afternoon.

Cody McDonald replied midway through the second half but the Millers soon made sure of the points with their fourth.


Man in the middle - Carl Boyeson

Games refereed this season: 11 (yellows 30, reds 5)

The East Yorkshire official hasn't been afraid to reach for his red card this season.

He's already handed out five red cards.

Former boss Justin Edinburgh was no fan of Boyesons when he took charge of Gillingham's game against Port Vale a year ago, with the ex-manager suggesting the official had been intimidated by the crowd after a few decisions went against his team.

Bradley Dack is sent off following dissent to referee Carl Boyeson against MK Dons Picture: Ady Kerry
Bradley Dack is sent off following dissent to referee Carl Boyeson against MK Dons Picture: Ady Kerry

Boyeson was in charge when Bradley Dack received his marching orders at MK Dons last season. Dack's two-game suspension was extended to four following a detailed report filed by the man in charge.

Assistants: Natalie Aspinall and Wayne Grunnill. Fourth official: Declan Bourne


One to watch – Kieffer Moore

The man on loan from Ipswich has taken League 1 by storm.

He's already got 11 goals but that sensational form has led to his parent club Ipswich Town signalling their intention to recall him in January.

It's sure to be a blow to the Millers, who have been reliant on the big man for their goals so far, scoring over half of their league tally.

Back in August he bagged a hat-trick against Southend and he has been a regular ever since.

Standing at 6ft 5inch, it's clear that the Gills will need to be switched on whenever the ball is crossed into the box.


From the opposition camp;

Saturday may turn into a battle of the giants.

While the Gills will be wary of the threat from Kieffer Moore, home boss Paul Warne knows Tom Eaves could cause his men some problems.

Eaves was on loan with the Millers back in 2013, when Warne was a coach there.

He said: “Tom Eaves is a handful for anyone on his day. He's a big, strong lad and on his day he's virtually unplayable.

“The centre halves will have to be ready for what he'll do.

“He's a good kid and I'll look forward to seeing him after the game if we've beaten them.”

Gills’ upturn in form hasn’t gone unnoticed either.

“By no means are we underestimating them,” said the manager.

“I think they've improved under the caretaker. I think they are playing with a bit of confidence and they can come here with not a lot of pressure on them to get a result.”


Last time out in the league;

Gillingham 1 Northampton Town 2

Sean Clare on the ball against Northampton. Picture: Andy Jones
Sean Clare on the ball against Northampton. Picture: Andy Jones

Northampton burst Gillingham’s bubble on Saturday.

Two super strikes were enough to win it for the visitors against a Gills team looking to build on a recent upturn in results.

Daniel Powell struck from distance to put the visitors ahead at the break against the run of play.

Lee Martin equalised just after the hour mark but a well-struck free-kick from Matt Grimes won it for the visitors.

Click here for more pictures from Gills' defeat


Gills‘ results and fixtures – 2017/18


Gills team news;

Luke O’Neill looks set to be available this weekend after featuring in a midweek practice match.

He came through unscathed after an in-house game at Beechings Cross on Tuesday morning.

O’Neill has missed the last six Gillingham games with an ankle injury.

Ben Nugent picked up an injury against Portsmouth Picture: Andy Jones
Ben Nugent picked up an injury against Portsmouth Picture: Andy Jones

Central defensive duo Alex Lacey and Ben Nugent remain out injured, however.

Lacey (knee) is back on the training ground but is unlikely to be fit enough to travel up to Yorkshire. Nugent is a little further away from recovery, with a foot injury picked up in the game against Portsmouth.


Talking point;

Gillingham striker Conor Wilkinson has worked his way back into the reckoning, but enough to replace Tom Eaves?

Conor Wilkinson in action at Wimbledon. The Gills striker has yet to score this season Picture: Ady Kerry
Conor Wilkinson in action at Wimbledon. The Gills striker has yet to score this season Picture: Ady Kerry

A midweek practice-game hat-trick came after positive talks with caretaker boss Steve Lovell on Monday.

Wilkinson had been an unused substitute in Gillingham’s last two matches but is now set to give top scorer Eaves more of a challenge for the role up front.


More on the Gills;

Ady Pennock back in management

Sean Clare enjoying Gills' attacking style

Ady Pennock has taken over as manager of AFC Barrow Picture: Andy Jones
Ady Pennock has taken over as manager of AFC Barrow Picture: Andy Jones

Elliott List: I really want a goal

Conor in the frame for Gills

Gills interim boss looking ahead

Gaby pleased to have Lovell in charge


Fancy a punt?

Rotherham are clear favourites to take all three points on Saturday, with SkyBet pricing them up at 8/15 to clinch a win.

It's 10/3 the draw and 19/4 for a Gills win.

Not surprisingly Keiffer Moore is being backed to get on the scoresheet, with odds of 8/11 to net in 90 minutes.

Gills' leading scorer Tom Eaves has yet to score an away goal. He's 2/1 to bag a goal for the visitors. Elliott List is 3/1, as he chases his first Gills goal, while Lee Martin has finally found his scoring form, under Steve Lovell, with two in three. He's 7/2 to score.

Elliott List on the attack for Gills against Northampton Picture: Andy Jones
Elliott List on the attack for Gills against Northampton Picture: Andy Jones

Beat the pundit: Gills fan Jake Allchin takes on Matthew Panting from the KM Sports desk and Tonbridge Angels manager Steve McKimm in trying to predict four scores this weekend. See what they think here.


Follow kentonlinegills on twitter for match updates.

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