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Match preview: Wigan Athletic v Gillingham at the DW Stadium (Saturday, 3pm)

By Luke Cawdell

Team news;

Gillingham boss Steve Lovell named the same XI for the third game running, at Wigan.

The only changes to the squad came on the bench, with Alex Lacey missing out through injury and Stuart Nelson departing.

Ben Nugent and young keeper Tom Hadler made up the numbers.

New signings Rhys Murphy and Navid Nasseri did not travel.

Gillingham: Holy, O’Neill, Garmston, Ehmer, Zakuani, Hessenthaler, Reilly, Byrne, Martin, Parker, Eaves. Subs: Wilkinson, Ogilvie, Nugent, List, Hadler, Nash, Moussa.

Wigan: Walton, Byrne, James, Colclough, Burn, Jacobs, Morsy, Dunkley, Power, Powell, Grigg. Subs: Jones, Elder, Walker, Vaughan, Bruce, Roberts, Fulton.

Preview;

Gillingham won't find a harder test in League 1 this season.

Leaders Wigan are 10 unbeaten in the league and have knocked Premier League sides West Ham and Bournemouth out of this season's FA Cup.

Not that the Gills will be losing any sleep over the task at hand.

Gillingham boss Steve Lovell Picture: Andy Jones
Gillingham boss Steve Lovell Picture: Andy Jones

Gills' biggest test yet - read the thoughts of Steve Lovell here.

Steve Lovell's men have made a habit of winning games few have given them much hope of, including their last three on the road.

Wins at Fleetwood, Charlton and most-recently Scunthorpe have lifted the Gills up the dizzy heights of 10th place.

It's form that has seen Steve Lovell rewarded with a longer-term deal at the club.

League form;

Gillingham: W 2-1 Fleetwood (h), W 3-1 Scunthorpe (a), W 2-1 Rochdale (h), W 2-1 Charlton (a), D 2-2 Wimbledon (h), D 1-1 Oxford United (h).

Wigan: W 3-1 Plymouth (a), D 0-0 Peterborough (h), W 1-0 Northampton (a), D 0-0 Charlton (h), D 0-0 Shrewsbury (h), W 7-0 Oxford United (a).

Head to head;

Gills wins: 14 Draws: 7 Wigan wins: 14

Last meeting at the DW Stadium;

Wigan 3 Gillingham 2 - Jan 2016

Gillingham lost to Wigan in stoppage-time after letting slip a two-goal lead.

A point would have taken the Gills top of League 1 and despite a fantastic start, they ended up leaving with nothing.

Wigan score their winner Picture: Barry Goodwin
Wigan score their winner Picture: Barry Goodwin

Dominic Samuel fired the Gills ahead midway through the first half and Rory Donnelly doubled the advantage after the break.

But two goals from Wigan in four minutes levelled the scores, as Will Grigg and Max Power struck, before Craig Morgan headed in an injury-time winner. The Gills won just four more games that season.

Gillingham concede a late third at Wigan Picture: Barry Goodwin
Gillingham concede a late third at Wigan Picture: Barry Goodwin

Last time out;

Gillingham 2 Fleetwood Town 1

Striker Tom Eaves scored a stoppage-time penalty to make it four league wins in a row for Gillingham last Saturday.

The Gills had to come from behind to beat Fleetwood after the visitors led at the break through Paddy Madden.

An own goal early in the second half - credited to Eaves but coming off a Fleetwood player - levelled the scores before Eaves struck.

Manager Steve Lovell described it as their best home performance since taking charge.


More: The Shouting Men Column with new signing Navid Nasseri


Gills team news;

The Gills are confident that Gabriel Zakuani can shake off an injury to continue his role alongside Max Ehmer in the middle of defence.

New signing Navid Nasseri is set to remain in Kent this weekend, when the team travel north, along with fellow midfielder Scott Wagstaff, who is recovering from a hamstring strain.

Gabriel Zakuani should be fit this weekend Picture: Andy Jones
Gabriel Zakuani should be fit this weekend Picture: Andy Jones

Rhys Murphy, who was signed on Wednesday night, is also set to miss the trip as he works his way into the squad.

Alex Lacey (ankle) will miss the game after a knock last weekend against Fleetwood.

Meanwhile, midfielder Billy Bingham is running again at the training ground, gradually working his way back to fitness, with hopes of making it back before the end of the season.


Click here for up player stats from the 2017/18 season


Man in the middle;

Nicholas Kinseley (Essex)

Games: 21, yellows 82, reds 6

This will be Mr Kinseley's third Gillingham game this season.

He dished out a red card for Lee Martin at AFC Wimbledon and was also in charge during the Boxing Day game with Oxford.

Lincoln boss Danny Cowley recently accused the official of 'losing emotional control' after sending off a player from each team, including Luton's Alan Sheehan after just four minutes.

Assistants: Iain Siddall and Graeme Fyvie. Fourth official: Ken Haycock.


More on the Gills

Interview: New signing Franck Moussa wants a piece of the action

It's a job we love - manager Steve Lovell on his new two-year deal

Popular keeper heads for the exit door

Done deal: Spurs loanee staying for the rest of the season


From the opposition camp;

Wigan added to their attacking options on before the deadline window closed, bringing in Devante Cole from Fleetwood.

He looks set to go straight into their squad this weekend, after scoring 12 goals for Fleetwood this season.

Devante Cole denied by former Gills keeper Stuart Nelson, when playing for MK Dons in 2015
Devante Cole denied by former Gills keeper Stuart Nelson, when playing for MK Dons in 2015

The 22-year-old was delighted to be joining a team destined to be playing Championship football next season.

He said: "It's a big club and the perfect club for me.

"I hope I can keep on scoring and help the team get promoted. Hopefully I can add to what they have already got.

“I met the chairman and the manager and everything they had to say made me think, ‘why would you not want to come here and be a part of it all?’

“I’m buzzing to get going."

One to watch - Will Grigg

Two goals last weekend helped Wigan to see off West Ham in the FA Cup.

Grigg rose to head home an early opener and then doubled the advantage from te penalty spot, claiming his 14th goal of the season.

The Northern Ireland international also scored in Wigan's last league game, a 3-1 win at Plymouth.

Grigg and Wigan are certainly full of confidence, having already knocked Bournemouth out of the competition, winning a replay 3-0.

"there is no fear," said the 26-year-old, who moved to Wigan from Brentford in 2015 for just under £1m.

"We have got some quality players here who shouldn’t necessarily be in League 1, that’s why our main aim this season is promotion.

"We get the ball down and pass it, it doesn’t matter who the opponents are. We are confident of playing anyone."

Fancy a punt?

The Gills are big outsiders to get a win at the DW Stadium, with SkyBet offering odds of 8/1 for an away victory.

It's 4/11 for a home win and 18/5 for a draw.

Nick Powell and Wigg Grigg are both even money to score anytime while Josh Parker and Tom Eaves are both 11/4.

Strikers Josh Parker and Tom Eaves embrace at the final whistle on Saturday Picture: Andy Jones
Strikers Josh Parker and Tom Eaves embrace at the final whistle on Saturday Picture: Andy Jones

Wigan have drawn their last three league games at home 0-0. It's 12/1 for another blank or 20/1 for Gills to leave with a 1-0 victory.

If you can't get to the game, follow kentonlinegills on twitter for match updates

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