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Match Previews

Preview: Gillingham

5 November 2021

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Cheltenham Town embark on a journey into a competition that possesses familiarly fond recent memories on Saturday when they take on Gillingham in the FA Cup first round (kick-off: 2pm).

Last season the club enjoyed one of its best ever runs in the world famous competition, reaching the fourth round and taking on Premier League superstars Manchester City in front of a worldwide television audience, with the game being broadcast on BBC One.

For a while Robins supporters and many neutrals dreamed as Alfie May's second half goal looked set to hand Cheltenham the most incredible of cup upsets, only to be foiled by Man City's class late on as they secured safe passage through to the fifth round.

Any dreams of a tie like that again are a long way off, and Michael Duff's men will be aiming to get a job done on Saturday against fellow League One opponents if they are to be in the hat for the second round draw.

The winners of Saturday's tie will receive £22,629 in prize money. The draw for the second round is to be made on Monday night on ITV4.

Team news

On loan defender Mattie Pollock (pictured) will undergo a fitness test to see if he could be available after suffering a knock to his knee in the midweek draw at Portsmouth.

There's an otherwise fully fit squad available despite the recently usual four absentees in Will Boyle, Charlie Raglan, Callum Wright and Taylor Perry.

All of the loan players have been given permission to play in the fixture by their parent clubs.

Media talk

Having already faced the Gills in the Carabao Cup this season, Michael Duff is expecting a different game to the two team's first meeting.

"I think it will be two completely different teams to that game. It's probably as difficult a draw as we could have got," he said.

"Everyone knows the way they play but knowing the way they play and stopping it is completely different. When you've got Vadaine Oliver and John Akinde up front why would you play any other way? It's effective.

"We'll have a game plan with and without the ball. We need to prepare to stand up for ourselves and do the other side of the game better which we did the other night. We used the ball well. We need to do both sides of it."

You can see Duff's press conference previewing the fixture exclusively on iFollow where you can also watch midfielder Conor Thomas previewing the tie.


When it comes to league performance this season, the Gills sit 19th in League One and have amassed 16 points so far.

One of their biggest threats comes from their front two with the sizeable forward duo of former Northampton Town striker Vadaine Oliver and ex-Bristol City man John Akinde offering plenty to deal with in the defensive third.

The well-travelled Gambia international Mustapha Carayol, ex-Rochdale defender Rhys Bennett and one-time Cardiff City man Stuart O'Keefe provide lots of experience throughout the rest of their squad.

Young talents such as defender Jack Tucker and goalkeeper Jamie Cumming, on loan from Chelsea and a part of Stevenage's squad last term, are also other players to keep an eye on.

The manager: Steve Evans

Steve Evans has been in charge at Priestfield since May 2019, working alongside his long-term assistant manager Paul Raynor.

He boasts over two decades of managerial experience having began in non-league with the likes of Stamford, Boston United and Crawley Town, before going onto manage in the Football League with Rotherham United, Leeds United, Mansfield Town and Peterborough United all on his CV.

The Scotsman was a striker in his playing days with his whole playing career coming in the Scottish pyramid.

Tickets & travel

There are no longer tickets on sale for the game. All tickets must have been bought in advance by midday on Friday.

Fans who have bought tickets and who have booked a place on the Robins Travel Club coach heading to the game are reminded that it departs from the Jonny-Rocks Stadium at 8.30am.

Those who have purchased tickets but not collected them can do so from the ticket office at Gillingham.


Social media: Follow @CTFCofficial on Twitter for updates throughout the afternoon. You can also view score updates and team news on Facebook and Instagram.

Highlights: You can watch match highlights on The FA Player as of Sunday. Highlights will also feature on BBC Two as of 7.15pm on Sunday night with the rest of the goals from the first round.

Radio: Listen to live full match commentary on BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

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