Evans wants the same from Gills
Evans wants the same from Gills

Following last weekend’s stunning win over previous leaders Wycombe Wanderers, Gillingham boss Steve Evans is looking for a similar performance from his players this week when one of the promotion favourites come to Priestfield complete with a very familiar face in goal.

The Gills boss reflected on Tuesday’s draw at Bristol Rovers when full back Tom O’Connor netted the equaliser after central defender Connor Ogilvie’s drive had been beaten out by the Rovers keeper – a point that wasn’t lost on Evans.

“My instinct to my bench behind me was that we’re now Sheffield United!” he laughed. “I’m very, very good friends with Chris Wilder and I’ve often said tongue in cheek to him, “what’s your left back – Jack O’Connor, a young man who I gave his League debut to – what’s Jack O’Connor doing outside left crossing the ball for your right back!”

“But we said that we had to regroup midway through the second half and go down fighting as we had to make chances and we’ll have to take chances at the back and I believe that in the end we were unlucky not to win the game three or four one in the end and their manager remarked on it to my staff afterwards.”

“But we just have to be on the front foot in all areas – Bristol Rovers is always a tough place to go and we were out of the game first half, and that’s because by and large we didn’t perform.”

“We changed it at half time, and it got much better when we changed the system, but you be guaranteed that we won’t be taking any risky formations against Ipswich this weekend!”

Before he was offered the Priestfield hot seat, Evans was instrumental in ex Gills keeper Tomas Holy making a move to East Anglia.

“I’m sure Paul Lambert made his own decision on that!” the Gills boss said.

“I was just asked to take a reference check for a Championship club – it was confidential at the time and I made the recommendation to sign Tomas. I thought he was outstanding and I’m sure that the Gills fans will agree with that and I’m sure he’ll get a good reception on Saturday.”

“He’s far from being the finished article, but Tomas I’m told, I’ve never met him, I’m told he’s a lovely kid and would be the first to say that – he’ll get a good reception,” and then added with a broad grin on his face, “and then I hope he has a terrible day!”

Reflecting on how his side must build on that Wycombe win, Evans said, “You always want your home form to be good, yet at Peterborough we had the opposite when we struggled a little bit at home and were club record breaking on the road.”

“Over the season, it doesn’t matter where you get the points from to hopefully put you in the top group or if you’re fighting for automatic promotion.”

“It’s all about resources and I know that if I had the resources to fly first class on holiday every year, I’d be turning left and not right.”

“We have to accept as Gillingham Football Club that we cannot go toe-to-toe with the resources of the likes of Ipswich, Sunderland, Portsmouth and Peterborough – these are big clubs in this League with big budgets and we can’t afford to do that.”

“We have to find our way which is working within a restricted budget from our Chairman but at the same time, I will hold my hands up to him and say that in twenty years, he’s never missed a payday nor had a problem!”

“Yet when you look at the sad situations at Bury especially and Bolton, you have something to be thankful for!”

“Everyone in the League knows that Ipswich are up there barring one or two with one of the biggest budgets in the League, with the biggest squad, the highest paid manager and everything that goes with that.”

“So, everyone expects them to get promoted – and I do – but what they do on Saturday will be about what we do. We’ve spoken about the consistency that we’ve got – do we turn up and show our fine form and if we show our fine form, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”

“Paul knows this division – he’s been promoted with a couple of clubs – and he’ll know what it takes to get a side out of this division. We’ve done some media work together and done some coaching courses together and of course been in opposition technical areas before on a few occasions too, he’s a man that I have the greatest regard for and the utmost respect!”

“I’m a Glasgow Celtic supporter and have seen Paul play many, many times and sung his name – I won’t be singing it Saturday! But yes, he was a magnificent footballer who played at the highest level, the highest level in Germany and became a Champions League winner when a lot of people in Glasgow were still saying “Paul who?” But he was a decent footballer and he’s a good manager too for sure!”

To the all-important team news and Evans told us, “Barry Fuller is doubtful whilst Matty Willock is still out injured but the rest are available and we need the rest to be available as just a couple of weeks ago we had to have three “babies” on the bench.”

“Overall we’re in good shape – we’ve got twenty players and two are out leaving us with a good balance!”