Gillingham – August report card
Gillingham – August report card

The first month of the competitive season hasn’t gone as new Gillingham manager Steve Evans would have planned.

August has, with one game left to play against Bolton on Saturday, yielded just two points from four league games, as well as a first round exit from the League Cup on penalties against League Two side Newport County. 

Although the Gillingham fans were divided on the appointment of Steve Evans given his reputation and negative history with the club, many were optimistic about on the field performances going into the campaign.

It was supposed to be different.

No more mid-table finishes. No more fighting relegation. Battling at the top, perhaps.

It has, however, not been that at all for the Blues in August.

The season started with a draw at Doncaster Rovers – a good point on the basis of the opposition, who lost on penalties in last year’s play-off semi-finals, and the game itself.

The Gills dominated the first half and led 1-0 thanks to Watford loanee Alex Jakubiak’s first of the season, and were made to rue their failure to add to their tally when Doncaster equalised on the stroke of half time. The home side controlled the second half, too, so Evans, beginning his four game touchline ban, would surely have been pleased to see his side take a share of the spoils home to ME7.

The Gills fired early in their opening home game of the season, too, with new signing Ousse Cissé giving them the lead against Burton Albion. A quick-fire Nathan Broadhead double, though, turned the game on its head, again just before half time, and Burton ran out of the game 2-1 winners.

Gillingham had the chance to make amends just a few days later, though, when they took on League Two outfit Newport County, a game they would surely have been favourites to win.

Although they controlled the game, Gillingham, ultimately, lost at Priestfield for the second time in a week. The game had four normal time penalties, three of which were scored, and a penalty shootout, in which Gillingham missed three of their four spot-kicks.

The performances were there, but the results were not.

The Gills then had a weekend off, as they were due to face now-expelled Bury, before they hosted Blackpool; the side setting the early pace in League One.

Alex Jakubiak was on target again for Gillingham, netting a brace to put them 2-0 up, but more late first half lapses of concentration saw the home side throw away their lead to draw 2-2 – the Blackpool goals coming in the 41st and 45th minute of the game. Again, it was a game of domination that brought no win.

To Coventry it was, and to Coventry the side went. An awful first half showing saw The Gills go in 1-0 down at half time, and the team had nothing to show for an improved second half performance. 

Another loss, then.

Although the results haven’t been fantastic, there have indeed been some impressive performances, particularly against Blackpool, and the first half against Newport.

New signings Alfie Jones and Alex Jakubiak have been standouts in the blue shirt of far this season, too, so there are plenty of positives around the club despite the ropey start.

Manager Steve Evans is still learning about his squad and bringing new men in – most recently Thomas O’Connor and Oliver Lee on loan from Southampton and Hearts respectively.

Alfie Jones started the season in defence but has now been moved into midfield. Ouss Cisse started the first two games but hasn’t featured since. It was always going to take time.

Evans perhaps needs to settle on a system or two that will suit the side and the way he wants to play. That will surely come as the transfer window nears closure.

At the time of writing, Gillingham sit in 19th place in League One with two points from four games. A game against Bolton Wanderers seems to be coming at the right time for Steve Evans and his side – they prop up the division in 23rd place with -11 points; one draw and four defeats from their opening five games following behind the scenes issues. It’s a game the Gills surely can’t lose.

It hasn’t been great so far. Memories have returned of the struggles of the recent years, memories that were supposed to be in the past.

But it’s a long season. There’s a new management team, there are plenty of new signings, and the feel good factor is still just about there at Priestfield.

Surely things will come good.