Gills boss expects tough encounter against Dagenham
Martin Allen says his players are determined to put on a good show for the fans when Dagenham & Redbridge visit MEMS Priestfield on Saturday.
The Gills claimed four points during their stay in Yorkshire last week and are just a point shy of Port Vale who occupy top spot in the league table.
Martin is expecting a tough game from Saturday’s visitors and praised Manager John Still for the job he has done while at Dagenham, and recalled the moment he first met John in the early days of his coaching career.
He said: “It’s a fantastic football club; John Still has done a brilliant job. They have a fantastic record for finding and developing young players and selling them on and I love going back there to watch football.
“It’s a great club, John always puts out good teams – he’s a proper manager, a proper man and I learnt a lot from him.
“I went on a course in North London and I didn’t know who this guy was, he was a non-league manager and his trainers seemed to be much bigger than his feet! He had a lovely smile on his face and everywhere you looked he was always the same every day.
“His tracksuit was old fashioned but he was the most popular person there, I had a chat with him and had a bit of good banter with him and I liked him.
“There was just something about him and he invited me in to Barnet – I was a gardener at the time for a living after I finished as a footballer. He invited me and said take some training sessions, that was just to help me and so I did Barnet in the mornings and in the afternoons I was driving back to West London to do people’s gardens and make a living.
“That’s when I got the call from Reading and I’ve kept in touch with John Still ever since – he is honest, straight forward and knows a player. He has done brilliantly to get promotion and get Dagenham to Division One – its remarkable with the resources he had available, a top bloke.”
Amongst the Dagenham playing staff is Ben Strevens who signed for the club last month after being made available by Martin, and he fully expects the striker to cause a few problems should he play a part.
He added: “Ben is a good player and a good person but he asked me if he could make that move and Ben was a quality player here. It certainly wasn’t an instant decision, we would definitely and happily of kept Ben here.
“Ben had to give himself the best opportunity of getting himself a contract for next year so it was the fair and right thing to do. If you treat people right then over the long term I reckon things will come good for you.
“Ben is a dangerous player and on Saturday, without a shadow of a doubt, he will be a tough opponent.
“Dagenham have several other players who are good players, I’ve been to see them twice recently so I know all about them and they’ve just beaten Cheltenham who are pretty good so that’s just the pattern of what’s been happening in this division over the past few months.
“Everyone can beat everybody so every game is difficult. It’s a tough match.”
Martin conceded that the closing stages of the Wycombe game were not to the standards they have set, but as ever, took positives from both that game and the match prior against Northampton where the Gills won 2-0.
He said: “We had a great result against Northampton who had just won five out of six so they came here on fire on that windy, rainy night. It was a great atmosphere and our team played fantastically well.
“In the Wycombe game we did actually play well for 60-65 minutes and in the first 45 we played very well. In the last 15 minutes we didn’t play well, let’s not hide behind it – we were too open on the counter attack and naturally people go home remembering the last 15 minutes.
“They cut us open far too many times and they had far too many opportunities to score at our goal and that’s what people remember. They managed to score one and we have to learn from that, we don’t want that to happen again and a point that night would have been a very good point.
“Our players do want to play well for our fans, it’s not as if they turn up and have a laugh or are not training or practising. As a manager I get the chance to see the DVD, look through the performance and there were some great moments in the first half [against Wycombe] where we played some really good stuff and we have to focus on those.
“We have to learn from the other bits and pieces, get better from those and get our team out there on Saturday to be positive and put a good performance on, not only for our supporters, but for ourselves.
“We want our players to be leaving here and going home happy.”
As for team news Martin confirmed that Danny Kedwell will be out for a while, and hinted he may make changes considering the side’s busy schedule in the past seven days but is adamant whoever comes in will do a good job.
He said: “I’ll have a look at training and we’ll see how people are. We have a couple who have minor knocks so we’ll see how they are and do our team play Friday morning with a view on having had two games in four days and a lot of travelling.
“I got home a ten to five after clearing the kit off the bus on Wednesday morning so the players have had a bit of time to recover, but they are fit boys anyway and are capable of playing in winning teams.
“Whoever goes out on Saturday, it doesn’t matter what their names are, the 11 shirts that take the field at five to three are capable of playing in a winning team and I am confident about that.
“Keds is out for another few weeks, the tear he had [hamstring] was quite a serious one but his progress has been very good and I will chat to him to see how he is. Charlie Allen has a scan with a consultant in London, but there is a lot of swelling.”