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MATCH PREVIEW

PUBLISHED
15:04 31st December 2013

Stevenage v Gillingham

We look ahead to the first game of 2014

STEVENAGE V GILLINGHAM
Sky Bet League One
The Lamex Stadium
Wednesday January 1, 2014
Kick-Off, 3pm

Team News:

Peter Taylor may have to make a late call on the fitness of Chris Whelpdale (ankle) and Danny Hollands (knee).

The Manager said after the 2-2 draw against Walsall that both midfielders may be available, but it awaits to be seen if they have recovered.

Amine Linganzi (calf) remains a doubt, while Myles Weston (hamstring) is unlikely to feature.

As for Stevenage, striker Darius Charles is the only player who will definitely be absent due to an ankle ligament injury.

Midfielder James Dunne (knee) and defender Peter Hartley (knock) could be added to the squad, however Dunne hasn’t started a game for over two months, while Hartley hasn’t featured since a JPT tie against Swindon in mid December.

Manager Comments:

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Peter says the league position of Stevenage counts for nothing going in to the game, and the approach will remain the same as they look for back to back away victories.

He said: “I don’t look at certain teams to say there is points there and not others. I look at every game to try and win; it’s as simple as that.

“Stevenage is a very important game, after that Wolves is important. It’s not a case of putting everyone out for Stevenage thinking you won’t win against Wolves.

“If things go for you and you play with a bit of belief you can beat anybody.”

Graham Westley said: "Although we conceded four again [against Bristol City] it was a totally different performance to our last game against Colchester, in which I admitted we were poor.

"If we continue to play like that I have no doubts that we will be okay this season. There was a lot to encourage me in the way we performed.”

The Gaffer – Graham Westley

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Graham joined QPR as an apprentice before, ironically, joining Gillingham in 1986. He only played two games for the first team however before joining Barnet, but it wasn’t until a move to Wycombe a year later where he would establish himself as a regular player.

A season at Wanderers was followed by two seasons at Kingstonian, and Westley then went on to have short spells at a number of non-league clubs.

His longest spell was at Enfield between 1990-1992 where he played over 40 games before finishing his playing career with stints at Molesey and Walton & Hersham.

He returned to manage Stevenage for a third time in March earlier this year having already had two successful spells before, including back to back promotions from the Conference and League Two in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

He was Preston's Manager for just over a year (2012-13), having also had the managerial hot seat at Kettering and Rushden & Diamonds.

The Skipper – Jon Ashton

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The Stevenage number five has been an ever present at centre back since the start of the season and is close to racking up 200 appearances for the club since signing from Grays in 2009.

He began his career as a YTS at Leicester before signing for Oxford, initially on loan before a permanent transfer in September 2003.

Spells at Rushden and Grays preceded his move to Broadhall Way, and was part of the team that achieved back to back promotions in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

One to Watch – Filipe Morais

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The Portuguese midfielder, who began his career as a youth team player at Chelsea, failed to break in to the first team at Stamford Bridge before signing for Millwall in 2006 after a brief loan spell at MK Dons.

Another loan spell, this time at St. Johnstone alerted other Scottish clubs to his talents and Hibernian were next to grab his signature in 2007.

Stints at Inverness CT and a return to St. Johnstone followed before Oldham Athletic brought him back in to the English game.

Two seasons at Boundary Park, where he scored eight times in 59 league games, followed before Stevenage snapped up the midfielder on a three-year contract last summer.

Stevenage – the season so far

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Since the last time the two clubs met in late November Stevenage have failed to win a league game.

Their only taste of victory coming against Stourbridge in the second round of the FA Cup after a comfortable 4-0 win.

They come in to the New Year 23rd in Sky Bet League One with 19 points to their name (five wins, four draws and 14 defeats).

They are four points shy of clearing the relegation zone and have only won twice at home all season.

On Boxing Day they were beaten 4-0 by Colchester, before shipping another four goals away to Bristol City in a 4-1 loss.

In the third round of the FA Cup Stevenage will play Doncaster at the Keepmoat Stadium – in the JPT they were eliminated by Swindon via a penalty shoot-out, while in the Capital One Cup they were eliminated by Everton in the second round.

Previous Meetings:

Gills defeated Stevenage 3-2 at MEMS Priestfield Stadium in late November following goals from Danny Kedwell, Donervon Daniels and John Mousinho.

You can watch the full game on Monday Night Football.

Prior to that the clubs have only met twice before. On February 1 2011 Cody McDonald and Bayo Akinfenwa scored in a 2-2 draw, while on New Years’ Day of the same year Akinfenwa again scored to seal a 1-0 victory.

Betting:

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If you fancy the Gills to record their second successive home win, then you can get odds of 9/4 for them to do exactly that. Stevenage are priced at 23/20, with a draw at 5/2.

Cody McDonald bagged a brace against Walsall, and a repeat performance of those goal scoring antics deliver odds of 12/1.

Jake Hessenthaler is 22/1 to score first, while Craig Fagan has odds of 9/1.

For a variety of other markets and to register an account with Sky Bet click here.

Officials:

Referee - ANDY D'URSO
Assistants - Amy Fearn and Craig Hicks
Fourth Official - Darren Blunden

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