Aaron Chapman says the squad are not worrying about anything else other than the very next game.
Gillingham had conceded 29 goals in the eleven matches before Neil Harris joined. These games included heavy drubbings of 2-7, 4-0, and 5-1… even the most optimistic were very concerned. Enter Neil Harris.
Eleven games on, they have conceded a mere eight, are oozing confidence at the back and have fearlessly fought their way out of the dreaded relegation zone. Harris’ progress has been built on solid defensive foundations and one of the most important bricks is goalkeeper Aaron Chapman.
The shot-stopper, currently thriving between the sticks at ME7, enjoyed yet another clean sheet against promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. This weekend he visits former side Accrington Stanley, where he is targeting yet another shut out.
The 6ft 8in last line of defence sat down with the local press ahead of the game to discuss Gills’ upturn in performances, clean sheets and his hopes of upsetting a former side.
“Everything is so positive around the club,” reflected Chapman. “It shows how far we have come when we have played against a team like Sheffield Wednesday and are disappointed that we haven’t won. I have had quite a few clean sheets and that is a testament to the whole team. On Saturday I don’t think I really had a save to make which is credit to the boys. Neil Harris has given us confidence. He has let us go and express ourselves.
“I feel calm and composed. It helps having Max (Ehmer) there because he is the same type of character as I am. Conor Masterson and Jack (Tucker) are both young but they are playing ahead of their ages.
“We had two good keepers here when I arrived, Jamie (Cumming) and myself, but only one can play. It’s the same now with Pontus Dahlberg but it’s more than just us, it’s for the team. You want that competition. Pontus is an international goalie, he’s got standards. If my standards drop, he plays. If his standards drop, I play. It’s good to have that kind of competition.
“Deren Ibrahim has come in as a goalkeeping coach and it is refreshing to have new ideas. Hopefully we can continue this form as a unit. We have seven massive games left. We will just keep doing what we are doing and by the end of the season the table won’t lie.”
The next challenge for the Gills is Accrington Stanley, a side that Chapman has made more than 60 appearances for. There will be little place for sentiment, however, when he lines up against his former team at the Wham Stadium.
“The biggest game is the next game and that’s Accrington,” Chapman explained. “That’s the one we have our eyes on now. Accrington is never an easy place to go. They have some big lads there. They always seem to punch above their weight; that’s credit to what the manager and his assistant are doing there.
“This is about us though; if we do what we have been doing over the last few weeks then I am confident that we will get a positive result. It will be nice to go back there and hopefully we will take all three points from them.”