Gillingham will be expected to improve on last seasons mid table 12th placed finish, where they missed out on the play-offs by 7 points. In truth starting the campaign with Peter Taylor probably cost them, he won just 6 league games before being sacked just after Christmas, the four man interim management team of Darren Hare, Andy Hessenthaler, Mark Paterson and Steve Lovell took over until the new boss was found. They kept the side on track with an awesome record, with a bit of help from the goals of Jermaine McGlashen before Justin Edinburgh took over on 14th February.
Last seasons top scorer with 18 goals, Cody McDonald will again took to reach the coveted 20 goal total. McDonald, who has previously spent time with Norwich City and Coventry City, will be joined by a whole host of new forwards, looking to join him on the battlefront. Ben Williamson has arrived from Port Vale after rejecting a new deal at Vale Park. The 26-year-old plummeted down the pecking order towards the end of his tenure, together with the clubs administration problems, this prompted the striker to make the move to their League One rivals. Other names entering Priestfield’s are; former Swansea striker Rory Donnelly, Chelsea midfielder Jordan Houghton, left back Brad Garmston, who spend time on loan with the Gills last season, and finally German defender Max Ehmer. The ex QPR centre back, who kept 6 clean sheets in his 26 game spell with Justin Edinburgh’s side last season, will now look to claim a regular starting place as a permanent member of the team.
The few times I watched Gillingham last season, I was always impressed with the displays on Bradley Dack. A hard working attacking midfielder with a sharp eye for goal. This is certainly reflected in is stats, 10 goals and 9 assists represent a momentous season for the midfielder who be looking to extend his career into the second tier if his magnificent form continues. Gillingham have never been a club sparking with promising youngsters, but with Dack, Jake Hassenthaler patrolling the midfield, this could be about to change. Young centre backs Devante McKain and Callum Davies both gained experience in the non league environment last term, and may push Edinburgh for a few starts this time round.
Gillingham certainly have many of tools required to engineer a play off push. Cody McDonald has definite goals in his boots, and supported by one of the array of strikers the await their chance, Priestfield’s could turn nto a goal centre this season. You often forget that Defender John Egan is just 22 years of age, he showed great maturity and readiness to consistently put in excellent performances throughout the season, while it is was just his first season with the club. Doug Loft provides the experience and leadership in midfield to pull youngsters Jake Hessenthaler and Josh Pritchard in the right direction, while offering a fair amount of talent himself. Discipline was the former Port Vale mans only problem last season, 9 yellow and 1 red, prove that the 28-year-old can go over the top at times, but bar this, he is unquestionably a key figure in the Gills locker room.