Evans hoping for Gills hat-trick
Evans hoping for Gills hat-trick

Can the Gills complete a remarkable hat-trick of wins at Fratton Park after waiting ninety-five years for the first one?

That’s what faces Gillingham and boss Steve Evans this weekend, as the Gills look to add to the 3-1 and 2-0 wins that the club has enjoyed at Portsmouth in their last two visits.

Indeed, it’s three wins out of four or four wins in six games for the Gills against Pompey, and when Evans met with the local media this week, the boss reflected first on the Gills exit from the Football League Trophy in midweek at Portman Road.

Evans told us, “We gave some players on Tuesday an opportunity to step up and make a claim – it’s easy to be in a Gaffer’s office telling him why you should be in the team, the best place after all to do that is on the pitch and a lot of the lads didn’t take that opportunity so they’ll have to go back onto the training ground and wait… I think it ticked a few boxes we already thought; they’ve no excuse as most of the boys have been in now since July, so there’s no excuses that they’re still having to get to familiarise with team mates etc., but we certainly ticked a few boxes for some and highlighted what others still have to do.”

“They’ve gone back onto the training ground – in fairness they’ve trained particularly well since, but they’ll be judged if they can play for the first team.”

“Everyone looks forward to going to Fratton Park and we’re fortunate enough to be going there as managers and players because the Portsmouth fans are famous throughout the World aren’t they for creating such a special atmosphere at such a historic ground.”

“I love going there even just to watch games for the atmosphere and everything that’s around it and we look forward to going to make a game of it against a team who I still believe will be there at the end of season.”

“Players love the opportunity of playing in the bigger stadiums with more people watching which is why when you look at internationals and Cup Finals the better players really do perform.”

“We’re going to be tested – we know that we’re playing a good side; we know that we’re playing against a very gifted and talented manager whose side had a great result at Doncaster last week.”

“It will be tough, but Gillingham have won there the last two seasons and we’ll be looking to add to that – we know that we’ll have to be at our very, very best and perhaps on the day hope that they’re not. They’ll be a threat from all over the pitch – we have to make sure that we can counter that and be a threat ourselves…”

“It’s always nice to get your first point away – which we did on opening day – it’s nice to get your first win and we’ve been close on occasions to doing it! There’s no better place to do it than at one of the top three stadiums – Portman Road, the Stadium of Light or Fratton Park – there’s no better places to go to try and win a football match.”

“But over the season, I’ve always said as a manager, I’ve never believed it’s about certain points away from home and certain points at home. It’s all about points accumulation over the course of the season – if we win every game now at home and only took the odd win and draw away, we’d be in the Play Offs.”

“We’re getting there in the home form – and the supporters deserve a huge credit for that for the part they’ve played – they’ve been patient with us, and they’ve given us a chance to have a real benchmark. And we’ve gone away from home and at times played really, really well – we’re going to have to be at our very best tomorrow to get anything – we’re going to have to be at our best – and in reality to win like previous seasons to match what Love’s (Steve Lovell’s) side did last season when they were at their best and the opposition were a step down from where their standards are, and we’ll have to hope that’s where they are on Saturday!”

To that important team news and the Gills boss told us, “We’ll have a look at Barry Fuller in the morning as he’s got a knock that may stop him starting his 500th League game. He wants to play and that’s massive for me – it’s an incredible statistic for him; we were talking about it in the dressing room in midweek with the players and the staff about iconic moments in people’s careers whether you’re a player or a manager.”

“If Barry does start tomorrow, to do 500 starts in the Football League is just a fantastic stat for a “young” man who we think very highly of. He’s conducted himself impeccably; he is a fantastic professional who we love very much!”

“People get into first teams these days possibly quicker than they used to, but if you look at Barry’s career, it probably means that he started something like 38 to 40 games a year per season since he made his debut! Ultimately it shows you’re a damned good player as different managers keep picking you!”

“Everyone else should be OK, but Matty Willock is still a couple of weeks away – he’s been a big loss…”

“We had an enquiry from Ebbsfleet earlier in the week for Bradley Garmston but now that they’ve got a new manager in on Thursday, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens with that one.”

“Henry Woods has gone on loan to Concord Rangers – he’s a kid we really like – he’s learning and wants to be progressive. We wanted to give him an opportunity and he’s keen to go.”