We look ahead to the Boxing Day fixture at MEMS Priestfield Stadium
GILLINGHAM V LEYTON ORIENT
Sky Bet League One
MEMS Priestfield Stadium
Thursday 26 December
Danny Kedwell (hip), Myles Weston (hamstring) and Danny Hollands (hamstring) will all sit out the Boxing Day fixture with Leyton Orient.
The game has come too soon for Hollands and Weston, but Kedwell could be out for up to a month with a hip problem which prevented him from travelling to Tranmere last weekend.
Chris Whelpdale (foot) has been monitored all week and could return, while Craig Fagan (thigh) is definitely ready for action after being an unused substitute at Prenton Park.
As for Orient, midfielder Lloyd James will serve a one match suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Crawley.
David Mooney, the club’s top goal scorer is also suspended, but Elliot Omozusi returns after serving a one match ban against the Red Devils.
Peter Taylor says his team have got every chance of getting a result if they can repeat the performance they put in against Peterborough two weeks ago.
Talking to the club website he said: “It’s obvious they are a good team and the Manager has done a brilliant job and he has been there a while now.
“It just shows you what it is possible if you get the time to build. It’s all about how we start, I maintain that if we start how we did against Peterborough it was very encouraging and that’s how we need to look to start every game that we play.”
You can see Peter’s exclusive interview with Gills Player by clicking here.
Orient boss Russell Slade said: “Our form has been excellent and we have to keep that momentum going.
“The attitude of the players has been excellent and they deserve a lot of credit for that. They have gone out with the same intent and purpose and they are a great group to work with.
“It is a nice feeling as a manager that you know what you are going to get when your team run out.”
The Gaffer – Russell Slade
Slade, who joined the club as Manager in April 2010, has certainly proved that sticking with a Manager can reap its rewards with the club currently sitting pretty at the top of Sky Bet League One.
The O’s Manager never played the professional game but has enjoyed success as a Manager, most notably at Grimsby and Yeovil where he took both sides to respective play-off finals.
Those spells were preceded by his first full time managerial role at Scarborough, and after leaving Yeovil in 2009 he was appointed Manager of Brighton.
However he would last less than eight months before then taking the reins at the Matchroom Stadium.
The Skipper – Nathan Clarke
Clarke, a centre-back, joined the club from Huddersfield Town last summer and has been an integral part of the Orient team since he arrived.
The visiting defence have conceded just 21 goals in the league this season, and only 11 on the road which is one of the best records in the division.
Nathan’s brother Tom currently plays for Preston North End.
One to Watch – Shaun Batt
Gills fans will remember the midfielder after he netted a hat-trick in the 3-1 win for Orient in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at MEMS Priestfield Stadium back in September.
He has been a regular in the first team squad, scoring four times in 20 league appearances. In the absence of David Mooney he could well be the one who makes the difference for the visitors.
Orient – the season so far
Orient have been top of the league virtually all season long, and occupied top spot at Christmas despite a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Crawley last time out at Broadfield Stadium.
Russell Slade’s side burst out of the blocks at the start of the campaign, winning 10 of their first 11 matches in all competitions – their only defeat being a 1-0 loss to Premiership side Hull City in the second round of the Capital One Cup.
Their form has stayed consistent throughout the season, but more recently they have struggled to live up to their high standards.
Going in to the Boxing Day fixture they have won just two of their last eight games.
As for their progress in the various cup tournaments, they were eliminated by the aforementioned Hull in the first round of the Capital One Cup.
They got through to the third stage of the JPT before being defeated 3-2 by Stevenage, and in the FA Cup they have progressed to the third round where they will play Yeovil on January 4.
As mentioned, the clubs have already met once this season, that coming in a JPT fixture back in September when a Shaun Batt hat-trick proved the difference between the two sides.
Bradley Dack pulled a goal back in the second half but Orient had already done enough to progress to the next round.
In total the teams have met on no less than 65 occasions. Orient just edge the head to head statistics with 25 wins compared to the Gills 23, the other 17 games have resulted in a draw.
Gillingham last recorded a victory against Orient in the second round of the FA Cup in December 2011 following a 1-0 win at the Matchroom Stadium.
Curtis Weston scored just before half time to give Gills the lead, and it proved to be the winner as the visitors went on to host Stoke City in round three.
Gills: LWLLDW (7 points)
Orient: WDDWDL (6 points)
Unsurprisingly the bookies are backing the league leaders with Sky Bet offering odds of 10/11 for an away win. Gills are priced at 16/5, with a draw 23/10.
Bayo Akinfenwa will fancy his chances of adding to the brace he grabbed at Prenton Park last Friday, and for him to get two more in this game Sky Bet are pricing him at 14/1.
Steven Gregory has been given odds of 25/1 to score first.
To open an account and place your bet go to www.skybet.com/gillingham.
Referee - Frederick Graham
Assistant Referee 1 - Nick Hobbis
Assistant Referee 2 - Ian Rathbone
Fourth Official - Nicholas Cooper