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Preview: Gillingham take on Crewe Alexandra at Priestfield in League 1

Gillingham needed a stoppage-time goal to earn a point at the weekend but boss Steve Evans is expecting an even harder challenge tonight.

Crewe Alexandra head to Priestfield without a defeat in their last 10 League 1 matches and are just a point adrift of the play-off places.

Gillingham manager Steve Evans prepared for a "very, very good Crewe side"
Gillingham manager Steve Evans prepared for a "very, very good Crewe side"

“They are a terrific side,” said Evans of their next opponents.

“They have brilliant individual players and any team they play against they will take the majority of the possession. They play the top teams in this league and they dominate possession. It is how you come up with a game plan to deal with that.

“The smart teams in this league find a way and deal with it and so we have to find a way.

“They are a better team than Rochdale. Both have good young managers and for both it is about keeping the ball and passing the ball. We have to work hard to stop that or it will be a long night.”

The Gills have managed to add to their squad before the match with the signing of defender Robbie Cundy, who had previously helped Cambridge United get to the top of League 2. He’ll be in contention for tonight’s game.

Gillingham won 1-0 at Crewe in early November. The hosts had around 75% of the possession that night and dominated the shot-count 21-6 against the Gills but Evans’ men took all three points thanks to a John Akinde header.

Evans admitted they “left with the balaclavas on” but any win will do again tonight as the Gills look to close the gap on the top six. They are currently seven points adrift.

Speaking after grabbing a late point against Rochdale on Saturday, Evans said: “We will move on and be back ready for a very, very good Crewe side but if we can beat them then we will be set for two humdingers, away to Sunderland (on Saturday) at the Stadium of Light and then at home to Lincoln City on the television (next Friday evening).

“(The draw against Rochdale) is something to build on and you can see with some of the other results in League 1, they are all over the place, it is really difficult. Victories and runs are tough unless you have the big money and the big players, we haven’t got either and so we have to graft for everything we have got.

“We made the big chances at the start of the second half (against Rochdale at 1-0 up). Connor Ogilvie (with a close-range header) would have put them away last year without even thinking. We have seen four or five of them in recent weeks but we just tell him to keep getting in there. He is a big player for us. If he misses then he doesn’t mean to. The difference though was at 2-0 we would have got a foothold in the game and controlled it.”

Rochdale hit back with two goals and it needed Akinde’s late intervention to claim a point.

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