A 3-0 win over Oldham Athletic last Saturday confirmed Millwall’s place in the League One play-offs. This Sunday, they end their regular season against Gillingham – a team that can still make the end of season lottery themselves. Julian Hart, Media Design & Communications Officer for Gillingham Ladies, takes up ‘The View From The Opposition’…
Name: Julian Hart
First Gillingham game: Gillingham 0-0 Charlton Athletic – a pre-season friendly on July 28th, 2004.
Greatest moment following Gillingham: Wembley in the play-offs in 2009 was a great day – a header in the 90th minute by the shortest player on the pitch will be a day that will live long in a lot of fans’ memories. A bit more recent, winning League Two under Martin Allen in 2013 was an eventful season.
With just one game to go in the season, the Gills can still make the play-offs but have dropped out the top six altogether. Just where has it gone so wrong?: At the end of January, we were top of the league, however, just 15 points (three wins and six draws) from 17 games has seen us plummet out of the play-off spaces and we are now in a mix of three teams chasing the last spot.
Where has it gone wrong? Ask each fan and they’ll give a different verdict. Mid-season injuries to star man Bradley Dack and rock solid defender John Egan – both missing six to eight weeks in February and March – meant instability in the side. An earlier broken metatarsal injury to forward Cody McDonald (sustained at The Den in the reverse fixture) means the Gills haven’t been so free scoring since.
As much as Justin Edinburgh has been a breath of fresh air at the club and the football on display at times has been brilliant viewing, he has had a tendency to tinker with the squad between matches and has made some choice team selections on a match-day, when fans may be expecting otherwise. The diamond midfield formation worked at the start of the campaign but then slowly got found out; Gills switched to three centre-backs and attacking full-backs, but Edinburgh has since swapped to a traditional back four and the diamond midfield again – we haven’t looked comfortable in games since.
On the flip side, Millwall cemented their place in the play-offs last Saturday – how do you see the Lions faring in the end of season lottery?: It could be interesting – if Gillingham manage to get a win and the two results go our way (against Scunthorpe and Barnsley), it will mean we avoid Millwall in the semi-finals.
It’s likely that the Lions will face Bradford – I can see you progressing past them – though for us, I’ve felt it for months if we made the play-offs, we wouldn’t get past the semis. I will put a prediction on now that it will be a final between Millwall and Walsall – how that will play out will be anybody’s guess, but it will be a worthwhile watch for entertainment.
You have ex-Lion Josh Wright in your squad – how has been getting on this season?: Josh had a loan spell with Gills, which included the 2009 play-off final at Wembley – his corner in that game was the set-up for the winner. Upon returning this season, he has settled into the squad brilliantly, making over 40 appearances for Gills this term. He has become a firm fans favourite and took the captains armband in the absence of Loft and Egan, when those two were on the sidelines.
There’s a lot of hope he will be signing a long-term contract in the summer to extend his deal with the club.
Who are Gillingham’s ‘ones to watch’ this Sunday?: Everyone will have their eyes on League One’s Player of the Year, Bradley Dack, and rightly so – the young creative midfielder has had a excellent season, even with an injury spell in the middle. Gillingham will need the academy graduate to deliver more than ever to keep the play-off dream alive this Sunday.
Which Millwall players do you feel the Gills will need to watch out for?: Lee Gregory has been banging them in for Millwall – our defence will be tested by the forward on Sunday. Former Gills, Joe Martin and Mahlon Romeo, will certainly be up for the game after their departures from the club last summer, too.
Finally, how do you see the game going?: I think with Millwall’s play-off place secured and automatic promotion out of reach, the minds of the Lions may be on the next three games rather than the one against the Gills. It will still be a nervy and heated affair, as it always is with Gillingham and Millwall.
Score Prediction: Gillingham 2-1 Millwall. Dack and McDonald for the Gills, Gregory for Millwall.
Julian’s Team Prediction: Nelson; Oshilaja, Ehmer, Egan, Dickenson; Wright, Dack, Loft, Hessenthaler; McDonald, Samuel.
Gillingham welcome Millwall to Priestfield this Sunday, May 8th, for a 12:30pm kick-off.