Paul Raynor reacts to Crewe win and looks forward to Stadium of Light trip.
Ruthless Gillingham players received high praise from assistant manager Paul Raynor after their most lethal performance of the season on Tuesday.
On a night of lashing rain and swirling winds, Crewe arrived at MEMS Priestfield Stadium looking to extend their ten-game unbeaten run, but the boys from ME7 had other ideas as they ripped into the opposition and demonstrated a seamless blend of defence and attack.
Before the interval, a rampant Gills side had the ball in the net three times without reply; midfielders Jordan Graham, Olly Lee and Kyle Dempsey all getting amongst the goals. After the break, Lee headed in his second and the Gills’ fourth. The tireless Vidaine Oliver was unlucky to have a fifth ruled out as the Gills remained hungry to extend their advantage.
Crewe’s Chris Porter took a little gloss off the win when he struck a consolation in the 80th minute for the shell-shocked visitors, but by then the damage had long been done and the game finished 4-1.
Raynor spoke with local media after the game to discuss the clinical performance, Robbie Cundy’s debut, a possible departure, and the team’s confidence ahead of another difficult fixture this weekend at The Stadium of Light.
A great all-round performance
“It’s got to be right up there as one of our best performances of the season. There are no easy games in this division but Crewe were ten unbeaten and are a lively outfit.
“They had passed us off the park at their place earlier in the season and we were fortunate to come away with the victory because we decided to sit a little bit deeper. We turned that on its head today.
“We told the boys that we wanted to press a lot higher and try and stop it at source. The intensity in which we did was absolutely fantastic. We forced a good team into making mistakes in difficult areas of the pitch and we took full advantage of it. We were brave and clinical.
“We warned the guys at half time to not get complacent. There are freak results where teams come back from two down or three down. We didn’t want to be a headline where a team turned that scoreline around. We warned them that the next goal was crucial.
“The only sad thing was that the guys at the back couldn’t get a clean sheet because I felt they deserved that.
“It was a great all-round performance. We have set the level of quality against a good team but now it is about getting that consistency.”
“We knew what he would bring to us and that is why we were desperate to make that move happen. He brings a real calmness. We play a high intense game, but amongst all that hustle and bustle Olly is there putting his foot on it and getting that first pass away, and that was crucial.”
Robbie Cundy’s debut
“There were no doubts about putting him in tonight. We have been looking for that elusive centre-back and we had been scouting him for a long time. I don’t think Cambridge were too impressed with us when we nicked him off them but we have a good relationship with Bristol City. The manager there is a good friend of the Gaffer; they did a lot of their badges together up in Scotland.
“We were very impressed with Robbie when he played against us in the EFL trophy and we monitored him. We asked whether he would be available and we were delighted to get him. Let’s not get carried away, it was a good first performance; he needs to build on that.”
Farewell to Joe?
“It looks like Joe Walsh will be going to pastures new tomorrow. We got a call at lunchtime from the Chairman saying that he had agreed a fee with two Championship clubs. There has been a bit of interest in him in the last few weeks. They have finally met our valuation so Joe will talk to both clubs now and we anticipate that he will go.
“It will be a fantastic move for him, whichever one he decides to join. He’s a brilliant young goalkeeper and I’m sure he will go from strength to strength. He has been at this football club since he was ten. We wish him well and we are delighted for him."
Sunderland up next
“We just said to the guys in the dressing room that there is no better place in League One to go and play football than The Stadium of Light. We will go there full of confidence and looking forward to the challenge.
“They will be another good team that we are coming up against; this league is full of them. These big teams are always a massive test for us but if we can play like this then we don’t fear anybody. It’s about what we do.
“Sunderland have got some fantastic players and they have got a bright new manager (Lee Johnson) who has already done great things at Bristol City. We know what we are up against. We will go there full of confidence that we can put a good performance on.
“We played some good stuff when we lost 2-0 to them at Priestfield and we were a bit unlucky. It was in that period of games where we couldn’t even buy a win and a couple of performances deserved more that they got.
“We will enjoy tonight first and then we will get up tomorrow morning to look what Sunderland have done against Ipswich tonight (they won 1-0), look at the reports and we will find a way to try and get three points at a tough place on Saturday.”