Martin looks ahead to Oxford challenge...
Gills Manager Martin Allen says his players will need to show the same determination and desire from their win over Northampton against Oxford at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday.
Gillingham went five points clear at the top of the table following Tuesday’s win, and although Martin was delighted with the result, he believes there is more to come from the team.
He said: “It was a fantastic performance and very difficult conditions with the strong wind. Two bits of quality won us the game, a brilliant finish from Deon Burton.
“It’s a difficult place to go and play football but I thought we got it down and played some good stuff. It was a great night, three points away from home and back on the bus on the way home it was very quiet but a happy bus.
“I am aware we are five points clear but let’s not kid ourselves there’s a long way to go but let’s also pat ourselves on the back a little bit because it is good to be five points clear.
“We’ve been very good at set plays and there is more goals to come from them [the defence] – Adam Barrett has been unlucky and Tom Flanagan got four last season in 27 appearances in Division One.
“Callum Davies had one cleared off the line against Southend last week so the boys are contributing right through the squad and with Jack moving forward tactically it has paid off so I am delighted for him, we want his quality in the final third where the game really matters.”
Martin went on to discuss how important the fans are and how much the squad appreciate their support. He added:
“We made that decision in pre-season to give the supporters the number 13 shirt and they have such an important part to play and in the current financial climate with people worried about losing their jobs there isn’t a lot of money about so for 388 people to make the trip up there it was a fantastic effort.
“The least we can do is go over to them and thank them for coming – even if we draw we should go over to them and make sure they are appreciated. They are part of what we do and I don’t care who you are there is nothing better than getting a standing ovation from your supporters.
“If you have played in front of 30, 40, 50 thousand people and you get a standing ovation its fantastic. Coming off after Southend was as good as I have ever enjoyed and it’s a magnificent feeling when you are a footballer, and a manager I guess.
“If we can’t appreciate the efforts of the supporters there is something mentally wrong with us.”
Oxford provide the opposition Saturday, and Martin spoke about what the players can expect:
“It’s the same answer really to every week e talk about the opposition. Our next game is always our most difficult,” he said. “We are top of the league and everyone will raise the game and they will look at us a bit harder and see how to stop us.
“We have to be ready to stand our ground and make our mark and I used the Ryder Cup for Tuesday night to talk about the inspirational performances of our first five who went out.
“At the key moments in the game the other night our players stood firm and they were there and that’s the same way as it’s going to have to be at Oxford.
“This is only the beginning, there is so much more ahead and there are bigger records that we want to break, and we can.”
As for team news Martin revealed who will be available for the trip. He added:
“Danny Jackman and Charlie Allen are suspended, Charlie Lee isn’t fit yet and Bradley Dack is available but he hasn’t played for a few weeks so it might be a bit early for him.
“Everybody else is fit.”
Martin revealed earlier in the week that Matt Fish had been awarded a new contract, and he is pleased with the progress he has made since taking charge.
He said: “I wasn’t sure about Fish when I got here but he seemed to get better and better in pre-season and I thought `oh my god this boy is good. ` I was actually looking for someone to play right-back but I kept seeing glimpses of Fish and I took a shine to him.
“He’s growing in confidence and needs help and support and I’m not sure he realises how good he is or how good he can be. I try and fill him with confidence, I think some of the supporters were not too happy with him last season and he was suffering a bit, but he isn’t any more.
“He loves playing here and you can see that – I asked Andy to sort out a contract with the Chairman a couple of weeks ago so he has done well to get that tied up which is an absolute god send.
“He can play in the Premier League, there’s a few of them that can if they work hard. There’s a few that can play in the Championship and all of them can play in the first division without a shadow of a doubt.”