Published: 05:00, 21 October 2021
Gillingham captain Kyle Dempsey felt John Akinde’s unexpected early introduction on Tuesday night was a game-changer.
Akinde came on for the Gills to replace injured Mustapha Carayol and the enforced change of approach - with a winger off and the muscular striker on - helped turn the tide in the favour of the home side. Gillingham won the match 1-0.
The Gills took control in the second half and won it after a series of set-piece moves.
“Massive credit to John Akinde, “ said the Gills captain. “I felt like he just changed the whole game and gave us a platform to run off him, get in their half and he held the ball up unbelievably well.
“He definitely changed the game for us and it allowed us to get in their half and look a lot more threatening and we got the goal. Vadaine Oliver wins nearly every header and it allowed us as a midfield and forwards to get in there and force them to putting it behind for the corners. One of them was going to go in, we got the goal and then we just had to stay solid for the rest of the game.
“We just knew that if we could get in their half and get the men forward, with our physicality and desire to win the ball, I felt we would come out on top.”
Windy conditions meant Tuesday’s game was a battle and Dempsey expected as much.
He said: “I had a chat with the boys before the warm-up and said to them, ‘no matter how we win this game, if it is ugly, pretty, we just need to get three points.’
“You could see the fighting spirit from all of the lads, second balls, everything, we came out on top in the second half and got the three points which was the main positive.”
It’s Bolton Wanderers next for the Gills and Dempsey expects they will need to repeat that fighting spirit.
He said: “They are a possession based team, will look to tire you out, but it is one for us where if we stick to our game plan, with the directness of our team, the physicality and winning the battle, it should be a good game.
“We go there confident, we’ve got the win now and now it is time to build on it and start climbing up this league.
“It will be a great atmosphere and that is something I thrive on, when there are 15-20,000 there, it will be one I look forward to. They are games you don’t have to get up for, it is games like Tuesday (against Doncaster) when you know it is going to be a battle, conditions were wild and we showed a real spirit to get the three points."
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