Gillingham vs. Tranmere match preview

This Saturday, Rovers make the long trip to Kent for their Coca-Cola League One clash with Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium.

It will be the two sides second meeting of the season after Gillingham took a 2-2 draw back to Kent from Prenton Park in late September, at the beginning of Rovers long run without a win.

On that occasion, Rovers twice took the lead through Captain Mike Jackson in the 10th minute and leading scorer Chris Greenacre in the 46th, but on both occasions, Gillingham equalised through Darren Byfield in the 16th and 63rd minutes.

Before this meeting, the two sides hadn't met since the 2000/01 season, Rovers final season in Division One (now Coca-Cola Championship) as they got relegated under John Aldridge.

In this season, Rovers came away from Priestfield empty handed, like they did many away games during that season, losing 2-1 whilst they beat the Gills 3-1 at Prenton Park.

You have to go back to 25th January 1975 since Tranmere last won an away game against Gillingham. They beat the Gills 3-2 this time, but since they have picked up just one of twelve points available when travelling to Kent.

Gillingham Last 6 Home Games: WWDWWD
Tranmere Last 6 Away Games: LDDWDD

Tranmere's last away defeat, as we keep highlighting, was to Barnsley on Tuesday 6th December, when they lost by two goals to one. Since then, their away form has been impressive although they have only won one game away to Port Vale on New Years Eve.

Gillingham meanwhile are on an impressive run at Priestfield. You have to go back to Saturday 1st October 2005 to find their last home defeat, which came at the hands to Southend when Bentley scored twice for the Shrimpers before Pouton grabbed a goal minutes from time.

During their ten match unbeaten run at Priestfield, Gillingham have overcome tricky cup ties against Wycombe Wanderers and Crawley but lately they managed a win over inform Swindon Town (3-0) whilst also netting three without reply against MK Dons and Port Vale.

Infact, the Gills have only conceeded three goals in their last eight home league matches, five in ten if you wish to include the Cup ties.

It certainlly won't be easy for Rovers, but one has to go back to the Blackpool on 10th December game to find the last time they actually conceeded away from home.

They have since kept clean sheets against Walsall, Port Vale, Hartlepool and Bradford which is a good record although those teams are highly setting this division alight.

This will without be a tough game for the Rovers. Gillingham lie 14th in the League One table but you must not be decieved by this. Although they are infact four places behind Tranmere who occupy tenth spot, they are in fact level on points (39) with Tranmere and it is only goal difference which seperates the two teams.

Jones' Prediction: Gillingham 0-2 Tranmere Rovers

Top 15

Simon Head, a Gillingham takes on our top 15

  1. Who are you, what’s your age and how long have you been supporting your club.

Simon Head, 29, I’ve been following the Gills for just over a decade now

  1. What’s your best moment as a football fan of your club?

It has to be the Wembley playoff final victory over Wigan in 2000. Our FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday was another great day to remember

  1. And the worst?

The City Ground last season was pretty horrible. We’d done enough to beat Forest and survive, but that last minute wonder goal by Eugene Bopp killed us, and we only drew. Every other result went against us and we were down. Not the best day…

  1. Which player has been your all time favourite for your club?

Robert Taylor, known by everyone at Gillingham as ‘Super Bob’. He was unstoppable for a season and a half for us. You went to matches just knowing you’d see something special – and he always delivered.

  1. And who is your current favourite?

Alan Pouton has been a much-maligned player by a number of our fans, but the bloke epitomises the spirit and determination of our club. They love him at Grimsby – and the fans are growing to love him here. He’s probably my current favourite.

  1. What’s your favourite away ground in League one?

I’ve not visited all of them, but I thoroughly enjoyed Millmoor last season. It would be lovely to have a ground like the Liberty Stadium, though, wouldn’t it? That’s a nice piece of work.

  1. What has your form of late been like?

After a shocking start to the season when we couldn’t beat an egg, we’re now on the up and up. We’ve finally laid our away hoodoo to rest and won for the first time in over 10 months, at Swansea of all places. At home, we’re unbeaten in our last 11 – and have picked up a nice habit of beating sides 3-0 at home. Our last three home wins have all come by that score line.

  1. Who’s the “one to watch”?

Tommy Black. He’s on loan from Crystal Palace and the bloke’s got bundles of quality. He’ll play wide right – and your left back will find him a real handful.

  1. Do you have any youngsters to look out for?

Most of them! We’ve a much younger side these days – and it’s one of the major reasons why we’re doing so well now. Leon Johnson at the back is doing well for us, as are fullbacks Sean Clohessy and Danny Jackman. In midfield Andy Crofts has attracted rave reviews and flying winger Matty Jarvis is probably the best of the lot. Fortunately for you guys, Matty’s currently out injured. We also have Akwasi Fomi-Edusei, who is a livewire striker. He’s a decent prospect, too.

  1. What’s your biggest threat, as in corners, set pieces etc.

We rarely score from corners, but Tommy Black has brought some quality delivery to our set pieces. Michael Flynn likes a shot from outside the area – and has scored a couple of free-kicks this season.

  1. At the start of the season, what was your predicted finish for the season?

I said we’d finish in about 9th – and that looked a touch optimistic at the start of the season.

  1. Where do you see yourselves finishing now?

I still think 9th is an achievable aim. The playoffs aren’t out of the question mathematically, but in reality our squad probably isn’t strong enough in depth to get us there.

  1. Do you think either of Tranmere or your team will get relegated or promoted?

No to both teams for both outcomes. I think we’re probably in similar situations – and neither side is quite good enough to get themselves promoted, but there are plenty of teams worse, so I wouldn’t expect us to be dragged into relegation trouble either. I think it’s a year of consolidation for us both – and I would think we’d both be hoping for stronger seasons next year.

  1. Are you a little surprised by Tranmere’s performance so far this season?

In many ways yes. I had you down as possible title contenders, but this division has proved to be wide open this season. There’s been a lot of player movement in the summer – and teams aren’t all able to continue their good work from last year. You guys have quality, but losing Iain Hume and Eugene Dadi were major blows, particularly Hume. Dadi gave you different options up front, but Hume was the one player who could turn losses into draws and draws into wins. With Hume and Greenacre up front you’d probably be a top six side now.

  1. Finally, your prediction for today’s game?

I think we’ll win the game, but I doubt we’ll win 3-0 again. I’ll go for a closely-fought 1-0 win.

I'd like to thank Simon for taking the time to answer my questiions and I hope he enjoys the game (just not as much as I do!).