PREVIEW: Gillingham vs Argyle
Sunday afternoon marks the end of a whirlwind 20/21 season, as the Pilgrims travel to MEMS Priestfield Stadium to take on Gillingham in their final Sky Bet League One fixture.
Currently occupying 11th position, the Gills were an outside chance for a play-off place until their end of season form tailed off, with the Kent side winning just once in their last five outings.
In their last fixture, Steve Evans’ men narrowly missed out on a victory over Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium. Jordan Graham put the Gills ahead in the 37th minute, before Ryan Broom equalised at the death, just like he did against Argyle, to earn the Brewers a 1-1 draw.
Last time at home, the Gills were held a 2-2 draw by relegated Northampton Town. Top goalscorer Vadaine Oliver put the home side ahead against his former team on 11 minutes, powering former Pilgrim loanee Olly Lee’s corner home from close range.
Lee, on loan from Hearts, doubled the hosts’ advantage on 68 minutes, which looked to have secured the three points. However, two goals in four minutes from Ryan Edmondson and Fraser Horsfall secured a point for the Cobblers.
In our reverse league fixture at the Home Park back at the beginning of January, a solitary goal was enough to see the Pilgrims start the new year off with three points.
Top goalscorer Luke Jephcott scored the only goal of the afternoon on 33 minutes from a fantastic team move starting from goalkeeper Michael Cooper, with the ball working its way through the thirds until it met Conor Grant, who superbly crossed to the Welsh striker for a smart finish.
Robbie Cundy missed out for the Gills last time out with a knock, and the defender will be assessed ahead of our meeting on Sunday. Ryan Jackson was similarly missing in the last game.
18-year-old Gerald Sithole made his debut for Gillingham against Northampton after signing his first professional contract, but picked up a knock so is also doubtful.
For Argyle, Sam Woods and Adam Lewis have returned to their parent clubs due to injury, while Will Aimson is also likely to miss out through an ankle problem.
Defender Jerome Opoku will not be in the squad as he serves his suspension after seeing red in the Pilgrims’ defeat to Sunderland last time out.
The managers said:
Ryan Lowe: “I’m looking forward to the last game of the season, we want to go out with a bang, we want to get points.
“We want to try and win every game we go into and Sunday is going to be no different. We’ve got to do what’s right, respecting Gillingham and going about the game plan right. We knew what we had to do last time when we beat them.
“They’ve got some good players as well, scoring some good goals, and they’re going to be a threat, we know that, but we’ve got to make sure we implement our style of football and we have to try and score goals.
“I know Steve Evans, he will want to win every game as much as I do, you want to try and finish up the league as much as you possibly can. Sunday can’t come quick enough in some ways, but ultimately, we’ve got to do it right.”
Steve Evans: “Plymouth are a decent opponent; we are looking forward to the game. We are really desperate to get a place in the top ten, we want to finish as high as we can. I always say that for the last game of any season, whatever you are playing for, you want to finish the season on a positive note.
“Players should want to play in the final game, it’s the last memory that they will give everyone of their season. We have an opportunity to finish in the top ten. Let’s not let our standards drop, we need to make sure we win to get into that top half.
“We will be ready for Plymouth and then we can get this absolutely dreadful season, because of Covid and everything around it, let’s get it finished.”
ARGYLE AWAY TO GILLINGHAM IN THE EFL
The record: P 35 W 9 D 5 L 21 F 36 A 59
The first time: 2 October, 1920. Division Three. Gillingham 0 Argyle 1
Robert Jack’s Argyle recorded their first ever away win in the Football League by beating the Gills by a solitary goal. Jack Hill scored the only goal of the game. The Pilgrims had beaten the Gills 3-1 at Home Park seven days earlier and so this was also their first ever double in the League.
The last time: 19 April, 2019. Sky Bet League One. Gillingham 3 Argyle 1
Relegation from Sky Bet League One was an increasing concern following a 3-1 defeat for Derek Adams’ Argyle at MEMS Priestfield Stadiumon Good Friday. Freddie Ladapo (25 minutes) had given the Greens a half-time lead, but strikes from Regan Charles-Cook (56), Mark Byrne (58) and Brandon Hanlan (90) gave the home side victory. This was Argyle’s third successive defeat and sixth game without a win.
Biggest win: We twice won 3-0 at Gillingham in Division 3 South. The first time was in September 1924 when Robert Jack’s men retained their position at the top of the table thanks to a brace from Percy Cherrett and a further goal from Frank Sloan.
The second time was in December 1956 during Jack Rowley’s time as Argyle manager. Two goals from Eric Davis and one from Peter Anderson helped to ease the pressure on Rowley and his bottom-of-the-table side for whom this was just their fifth victory of the season.
Most goals in a single game: Seven, in a 2-5 defeat for Derek Adams’ walking wounded in the final game of the 2017-18 season played in May2018.
Argyle started the day with an outside chance of making the end-of-season play-offs in League One. Josh Parker gave the Kent side a fifth minute lead, but Joel Grant equalised for the Pilgrims on 23 minutes. Gills’ target man Tom Eaves then helped himself to a hat trick, with goals on 30, 36 and 51 minutes. Graham Carey pulled one back on 77 minutes, only for substitute Elliott List to make it 5-2 in the 90th minute.
Sunday’s fixture kicks off at 12pm, and will be available to stream live and worldwide on iFollow Argyle. Click here to purchase your pass.