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Match Previews


19 November 2016

The Saddlers entertain the Gills this afternoon...

Walsall could move to within touching distance of the play-offs with victory over struggling Gillingham. The Saddlers are unbeaten in six league matches, having lost only two of their last 13 in all competitions. It was only a month ago yesterday that Jon Whitney’s men travelled to Gillingham for the reverse match at Priestfield, which finished in a 1-1 draw. The Kent club have endured a difficult campaign to date; Justin Edinburgh’s side sit 17th, just three points above the relegation zone, and have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 23 league matches. Walsall have a good record in this fixture, having won three and drawn seven of the last ten meetings between the sides. In last season’s corresponding match, the Saddlers came from two goals down to prevail 3-2, with Jason Demetriou scoring a last-gasp winner to send Walsall top of League One.

Walsall: 14th – P16 W5 D7 L4 F21 A22 PTS22 
Gillingham: 17th – P17 W5 D5 L7 F24 A30 PTS20

12th November – MK Dons 1-1 Walsall – League One 
Dean Bowditch’s late equaliser denied Walsall victory at managerless MK Dons. Scott Laird’s powerful 28th-minute header looked to have secured victory for the Saddlers, but Bowditch’s low drive in the final minute of normal time earned the Dons a draw.

16th November – Brackley 4-3 Gillingham (AET) – FA Cup first-round replay 
Gillingham crashed out of the FA Cup after losing to National League North side Brackley in a pulsating replay. A James Armson brace put Town 2-0 ahead, but goals from Jake Hessenthaler and Scott Wagstaff forced extra time. Stuart Nelson’s own goal put Brackley back in front, and Armson completed his hat-trick to make it 4-2. Cody McDonald pulled one back for Gillingham but the hosts held on to secure a shock win.

Walsall wins: 43 
Gillingham wins: 45 
Draws: 23

18th October 2016 – Gillingham 1-1 Walsall – League One 
Walsall extended their unbeaten run to four matches with a hard-fought draw at out-of-form Gillingham. Cody McDonald put the Gills ahead on 25 minutes when he headed in Scott Wagtaff’s cross at the far post. But the Saddlers levelled after the break, when Franck Moussa followed up to tap home after Erhun Oztumer’s strike was spilled by Jonathan Bond. The hosts could have secured victory late on, but Neil Etheridge produced a stunning save to turn Bradley Dack’s 25-yard free-kick onto the bar.

Gillingham Manager: Justin Edinburgh 
The former Tottenham defender is now into his second full season as Gillingham boss. The 46-year-old succeeded Peter Taylor as manager in February 2015 after leaving Newport, whom he guided back into the Football League after a 25-year exile. Edinburgh, who has won 36 of his 93 games at the helm, has also managed Billericay Town, Fisher Athletic, Grays Athletic and Rushden & Diamonds.

Gillingham Star Man: Jay Emmanuel-Thomas 
Former Arsenal trainee who has scored six league goals for Gillingham since signing on a season-long loan from QPR. Capped by England at youth level, the 25-year-old was a member of the Bristol City team that won both the League One title and the JPT in 2014/15. He has played for five other EFL clubs: Ipswich, Doncaster, MK Dons, Cardiff and Blackpool.

Kieron Morris is ruled out, while Flo Cuvelier, Maz Kouhyar and Reece Flanagan are also sidelined.

John Busby 
Busby has brandished 60 yellow cards and one red in the 15 games he has officiated so far in 2016/17.

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