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Gaffer | "It's a test we will relish"

Gills boss says squad is upbeat ahead of Sunderland visit.

30 October 2020

Gaffer certain results will turn if team keep making chances.

Steve Evans is convinced that results will improve for Gillingham, who continue to go unrewarded despite improved performances.

The Gills boss, who celebrated his birthday on Friday, is hoping for victory against Sunderland, a team they beat at home in the league and FA Cup last season, but he knows his side will need to start turning chances into goals.

He spoke to the press on Friday morning: “Somebody said when I woke up this morning, ‘what is your wish for your birthday?’ I didn’t tell them what it was but I think you can guess it! I just want the boys to get some reward. I think it is unusual to see a team play as well as they have played recently and not even have a point to show for it.

“It’s been a real tough run of fixtures, this is unprecedented for us to have such a tough run of games.

“Sunderland will be a big challenge for us. I see them as being in the top two at the end of the season, whatever happens tomorrow, that’s the strength of their squad. They have settled more off the pitch which gives you more chance on the pitch. We are looking forward to it. It’s a test, but one we will relish.

“They have a good management team who have been successful. Sunderland have the buying power to have some wonderful players for the level they are playing at. They are a terrific side which is full of good players. They are a huge Club and a class act.”

Evans has been impressed with the progress his team have shown over the last three games and is confident that his strikers will start firing again, sooner rather than later.

He said: “When you are making chances, the missing of chances is so frustrating but at the same time the real problem comes when you are not playing well and not making them. We are making lots of chances.

“We’ve done enough in recent games performance-wise to get points but we’ve just not taken our chances. We’ve said to the strikers that you get the credit and the cheers when you score goals and you get the disheartenment when you don’t.

“We’ll go back on the training ground and keep working hard until things turn for us. The boys we have won’t keep missing chances on a regular basis. We’ve got goalscorers in Akinde, Samuel and Oliver… they will score goals. It’s got to turn.

“We still go to training with smiles and a positive attitude and that younger group helps the older lads. Everyone believes they will win it tomorrow. You don’t always get what you deserve, but over the season you do.”

Evans has fond memories of Sunderland fixtures in the 2019/20 campaign (consisting of two home wins and an impressive away draw). He paid his respects to the Gillingham crowd who played their part in those results and wants his players to be at their best in the Gills fans’ absence.

“Football is not the same without supporters. Would they have helped us when we were totally dominating Portsmouth and Fleetwood? Absolutely. Would they help us tomorrow against Sunderland? Well, who can forget what happened last season when Connor Ogilvie scored late and the roof came off. Who can forget when Hanlan scored in extra time against Sunderland and the roof came off? You can’t replicate how much supporters help the team.

“We need to get on with it without them and hopefully we can get the three points.”

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