Rochdale will present stern test, warns Gills manager.
Steve Evans says he is feeling confident ahead of Gillingham’s Sky Bet League One clash with Rochdale at MEMS Priestfield Stadium this weekend, although he is predicting another tough battle.
The Gills boss, looking for back-to-back league wins, is calling on his players to use last Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Accrington as a “building block,” having described the resolute performance as “the best we have been.”
Speaking to the local press ahead of the Rochdale fixture, Evans discussed improved performances, new signings and his respect for The Dale.
“The way we approached the match was encouraging. The physicality that we displayed, the way we kept the ball, the way we interacted as a new team with Olly and Callum coming in and our eagerness and energy was outstanding. We know we have got good technical players all over the pitch. If we put the same effort in as the opposition then we know we have a chance.
“We probably didn’t get the credit we deserved for winning at Accrington, not many teams go there and win. It was the manner in which we won. We rode our luck in the last five minutes but up until then we should have been three or four ahead. It was a really good all-round performance.
“We put the team together and it was the best we had played all season. We had been together for 20 minutes, it was like hand in glove; it just felt right. It was the best team collectively we have had this season, although we are still three or four bodies short but it is a really good start to the transfer window.”
“Back in the summer my two main targets were Kyle Dempsey and Callum Slattery. For whatever reason Callum Slattery was kept in the building at Southampton. You have to respect that; he is a top young talent and they wanted to keep him around. It’s a big plus when you get Callum in.
“Olly Lee is someone that I was surprised was available, but within 20 minutes we had agreed that he would come back here on loan. These are two players that make us so much better.
“We are also delighted to sign Tyreke Johnson. He is a brilliant young player. He’s young and he will only improve. When he came to join us on loan he was possibly the best player on his debut. He will do very well for us. He’s got a contract until the end of the season and then we have the option to take that further. Let’s see how he does between now and then.”
“We are working desperately hard to bring new players into the group. We are looking at a defender and have agreed something with his parent club. The lad would be keen to come but he’s subject to them getting their player. We have to be patient.
“We are working on two or three scenarios. We have got some options. If it takes a little longer to get the right player in then we will wait the time.
“We have to be mindful that we can make lots of signings, but we don’t want to regret those signings in February and March.”
Looking ahead to Rochdale
“I’ve seen a stat that they have scored the second most goals in the league. When we played them last (when Gillingham triumphed 4-1 back in December) we were quite fortunate that their three best players were missing.
“I went to The Valley recently and watched them draw 4-4 and it was very exciting to watch. Rochdale are a good side; they are a difficult team to play against.
“I travelled up to Doncaster on Tuesday evening to watch them lose by the odd goal. Supporters can do their own research and go on to YouTube and watch the clips, Rochdale should have left with all three points never mind nothing.
“We know how tough it is going to be on Saturday, anyone who thinks differently doesn’t know anything about League One football.”