Lovell keen to pull off shock
Lovell keen to pull off shock

Gillingham take a weekend off from their League One campaign as they welcome Neil Warnock and Premier League Cardiff City to Priestfield for an Emirates FA Cup Third round tie.

After ties with non-league Hartlepool United and Slough Town, the Gills find themselves very much the underdogs against the Welshmen, who remain the only non-English team to win the famous old trophy albeit over ninety years ago and were runners up as recently as 2008.

Speaking to KSN this week, boss Steve Lovell, himself of course a proud Welshman from Swansea, admitted, “We’re all very much looking forward to it – it’s been a long time since the last round and our win at Slough. The players are looking forward to it and hopefully it will be a good occasion for everyone and that we can put on a good performance and do Gillingham proud!

It will be a good experience for our players – it’s the FA Cup and anything can happen in the FA Cup, but we’re just concentrating on us putting on the performance and we’ll be preparing as if it was a normal League game. It’ll be a good day away from the League programme and it’s one that we’re looking forward to.

Making a return to Priestfield on Saturday will be Assistant manager Ronnie Jepson. “I was with Ronnie here of course and I know Andy Legg who does the under 23s very well too,” Lovell said. “some good acquaintances and some good people and that’s what football is all about, you meet some very good and nice people and when you come across each other in your respective roles, it’s great, but there’s a game of football to be won.”

“All we can do is to go out there on Saturday and do our best and when we’ve done that this year, we’ve put in some really good performances that have got results. OK there have been a couple where we’ve put in a good performance and not got the result, so we’ve got to go out there on Saturday and give it our all and if we fall short, then so be it, but we cant give less than 100% if we want the chance of an upset.

Youve got to remember that we have got a chance because its nilnil at the moment as the game hasn’t started and anything can happen in the game – we have to be prepared to give everything in every way that we can with or without the ball. And I genuinely believe that if we can do that, we will give them a good game whatever team Cardiff put out.

We as a team are very good going forward and the games this year where we have been together defensively, and the players have turned around together defensively, we have got results and so we know that if we do lose the ball, they will come at us very, very quickly!

But what sort of side does Lovell think his charges be facing come 3:00pm Saturday afternoon. “His (manager Warnock) sides do seem to have a pattern to the way that they play, but if you change things entirely it is a completely new team isn’t it?”

“So if he’s used to a team that plays in the Premier League who are used to playing a certain way week, in week out and get used to each other. If they’re going to change that, then it will be a big change and sometimes, they don’t work together.”

“Its like if we have to make five changes in the team from a Tuesday to a Saturday, it throws everything out of sync for the starting eleven. Bottom line is that it will depend what team he picks and how many changes there are, but we will prepare for the way that we want to play on Saturday. =”

“We probably wont know half the names on the team sheet, but we’ll know what they’re going to be doing and we’ll wait till we get the team sheet.

So who will be on Lovell’s team-sheet? The manager gave his weekly squad update when he told us, “Billy (Bingham) went off on Tuesday and won’t be fit, whilst Max (Ehmer) and Dean (Parrett) aren’t ready to come back, though I’m hoping they may be back for Burton. Connor (Ogilvie) should now be OK until the end of the season as we’ve extended his loan stay and Regan (Charles-Cook) should also be back.

We’ll be telling the boys to go out and enjoy the occasion – the FA Cup is something special and I think a lot of the magic in places has gone, but not from here and me, Patto and Coxie (coaches Mark Patterson and Ian Cox) have all had good times in the competition and all we can do is to relate that to our players and it is a big game – for many of them it’s the biggest game that they will ever have played in and we’ll see how they can handle it.”

“It will be an experience for them and we’ll see how they handle it and learn from it as they go through their careers.

The crowd can only cheer if we give them something to cheer about. Against Portsmouth we did; against Doncaster we didn’t play very well, and they didn’t have much to cheer so we can only give them the performance that will keep them on their toes and completely backing us and that’s a natural reaction.”

“Cardiff will bring a few and it will be a good atmosphere as the Cardiff supporters will get behind their team.