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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Inside Line: Gillingham (01/03/2014)

Last week’s “abysmal” display at Bramall Lane has plunged City right back into the relegation scrap just as it looked as if there was an opening to inch clear. A response will be expected by boss Steve Cotterill and it’s certain that the home fans will want to see some fight and commitment from those in red shirts this week, as we play Gillingham for the third time this season.
An all-too-rare clean sheet helped City towards a 2-0 victory – and a home cup tie against Premier League Crystal Palace – at Priestfield in August, whilst a few weeks later Marvin Elliott’s header earned a point against the Kent side.
Luke Cawdell – a sports journalist and Gills’ correspondent for Kent Online – was kind enough to speak to Lewis Hancock for this week’s ‘Inside Line’.
Although in 13th position, Gillingham are only six points above the relegation zone and have to play a lot of teams below them in the table. Do you think there's enough quality in the squad to not be dragged into a relegation scrap? Should Gills fans be worried?
I think the Gills are already in a relegation scrap. They may be sitting mid-table but I don’t think anyone is under any illusions, be that the fans, the players or the manager. The target has been 50+ points for Peter Taylor ever since he came in. So far he is on course to achieve the objective. Plenty of teams below have games in hand but they gave to win those first. Taylor has added some young players from the Premier League and the Championship, like Watford’s Connor Smith and West Ham defender Ryan Inniss. They will all help as the season hots up. There could be a few nervy times ahead but I think the Gills have enough quality to get the results they need.

What do you think of Bristol City's plight this season?
Like most people I have been surprised to see how badly they have done this season. Looking through the squad there is quality aplenty in there. Gills would love to have some of those players, like midfielder Marlon Pack. Sam Baldock is clearly a class above this division and Tyrone Barnett has a decent reputation. Peterborough tried to use him as a bargaining tool to sign Jack Payne a while ago. I am sure Gills fans would have been happy to have a player of Barnett’s quality. City can bring in quality, like Adam El-Abd – players well out of Gills’ price range.

Adebayo Akinfenwa has recently said he's been 'frustrated' about being on the bench a lot of this campaign. Does he have a right to feel aggrieved? Are Gills better off with him in or out of the side?
He came off the bench at the weekend along with McDonald and the pair immediately linked up, creating a chance apiece. Unfortunately the Oldham GK Mark Oxley was in top form. Bayo hasn’t completed many 90 minutes and he’s either been used as sub coming on in the 60th minute, or off. His lack of minutes have come about due to Danny Kedwell’s early season form. Kedwell physique means he can do more work for the team, getting up and down for 90 minutes, and I guess that’s why Bayo has had less minutes. But when Bayo does play, he always has the knack of creating chances, which is why Cody McDonald enjoys playing alongside him so much. If Bayo could do 90 minutes at 100% he wouldn’t be on the bench so much.

It was Akinfenwa that caused the City defence problems in the reverse league fixture. Who else has the potential to hurt City on Saturday?
As mentioned, Cody McDonald has the potential to hurt you. He loves playing off the shoulder of the defender and chasing onto balls. He’s missed a few one on ones this season but scored some real gems as well. He seems to do better when he doesn’t have time to think, it’s more natural instinct. Connor Smith, on loan from Watford, played really well at Oldham, linking the midfield and attack up well. He’s quick and lively and a good passer. He has played well away from home in a 433 formation.

Peter Taylor hinted at selecting the wrong team in the 1-0 loss to Oldham. How does he tend to set his side up to play?
He said he didn’t regret the team he selected. He made six changes and with the chances the team created you could say his team selection worked. Who knows, maybe had McDonald started he could have tucked a few chances away. But even he was denied by the keeper late on. He likes playing 433 away, with two wide men (possibly Weston and Fagan) playing either side of a striker (McDonald or Pigett). A three man midfield was what he set up with at Oldham. He could stick with that again. He hasn’t got many natural wingers in the squad.

Finally, can I have a prediction for the match?

Gills either seem to win or lose under Taylor but I’m going for 1-1 this week!



The Exiled Robin

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