Gills Manager satisfied after 1-0 win over Dartford
Gills Manager Martin Allen says his squad are in good condition ahead of the new season after a period of intense training and fitness work over the past couple of weeks.
Allen watched his side from the dugout during their 1-0 win over Dartford in their first pre-season friendly on Saturday, and he was particularly happy with the performances during the last 30 minutes when the entire starting 11 were substituted.
Ben Strevens, who signed for the club on Friday evening, got the only goal of the game in the 73rd minute and the manager was satisfied with the overall performance.
He said: “I thought the players looked very tired in the first half. We really had a hard session on Friday which is all part of our training, so we can't be too disappointed with it and we almost expected a leggy performance.
“I thought there were 15 minutes after the break [before all players were substituted] where they really stepped up, which I thought was very encouraging.
“Then, the last 30 minutes, maybe with a less-experienced team, who although they had done the same training, played a different system and we looked a lot sharper, more passing, a lot more tenacious, better to watch and we scored the goal.
“To win the game, away from home with a clean sheet, was a bonus and I hope I’m saying that a lot more over the next eleven months.”
Fitness at this stage of pre-season is something the management are working on meticulously, and Allen says he wants every member of his squad to be ready for action when the first competitive game arrives on August 14.
He said: “We’ve got a lot of games coming thick and fast now, so we’ve got to get the players up to a fitness level, level out and when we get close to the start we will reduce the time they are working and reduce the intensity.
“We don’t want to see leggy performances when they are tired – we want them in tip-top shape for the start of the season. We’ve got a new physio and strength and conditioning coach in, a new doctor is starting this week, so the guys behind the scenes are working very hard to get the lads fitter and stronger.
“They are clever, they are well above my level and they give me advice and guidance so I can set the training levels correctly.
“They are eating well at the ground; the chef has been brilliant so all in all we are trying to make it as professional as we can make it. The players have been very receptive.”
The manager wasn’t overly surprised that Strevens had opened his account so quickly, and said he is a strong character to have at the club.
He said: “Ben Strevens is always going to do that sort of stuff, he has done for years. He’s had promotions recently with Wycombe, so he’s got form, he’s got quality. I know Ben well; he’s a cool, calm character who has come in on a free transfer. The three new signings (also keeper Stuart Nelson and Charlie Allen) have all done well.”
On the subject of new players Allen said a few more may arrive at the club before the new season begins, and he is in regular contact with the Chairman and Andy Hessenthaler to see how things are progressing.
He said: "A lot of players left last year, some of them key players, so they need replacing. We also need to fill that gap between the good young players and the first team, but that will be up to the Chairman, it’s his money!
“I’ll have a chat with some of the trialists, Dean Morgan and Ryan Gilligan – he got 16 goals in this division two seasons ago so he’s another player in strong consideration. Sometimes it’s nice when people who aren’t on your radar come along and we’ll see what we can do to help them.”