Just one point separates Walsall and Gillingham heading into tonight’s match, although both teams are in contrasting form. The Saddlers have lost just one in seven, winning three on the trot, while Justin Edinburgh’s Gills have struggled for results recently, losing their last four. Walsall, who will be targeting a first away league win of the campaign, did the double over Gillingham last season and have lost only one of the last 12 meetings between the clubs. Saddlers skipper Adam Chambers is set to make his 250th appearance for the club.
Gillingham: 18th – P13 W4 D3 L6 F19 A25 PTS15
Walsall: 14th – P12 W4 D4 L4 F16 A19 PTS16
15th October – Bristol Rovers 2-1 Gillingham – League One
Substitute Ellis Harrison’s last-minute volley earned Bristol Rovers a dramatic comeback win and condemned Gillingham to a fourth successive defeat. Josh Wright fired the visitors ahead just past the hour mark but Rovers fought back, with two goals in the final eight minutes from Chris Lines and Harrison securing victory.
15th October – Walsall 3-2 Shrewsbury – League One
Erhun Oztumer scored an 88th-minute winner as Walsall edged past managerless Shrewsbury in a five-goal derby thriller. Amadou Bakayoko drilled the Saddlers ahead on 23 minutes before Oliver Lancashire equalised with a header. Kieron Morris bundled Walsall back in front but Salop levelled again, this time through Junior Brown. Shrewsbury’s Ryan McGivern was then sent off and the hosts snatched victory at the death when Oztumer scored directly from a corner. Bakayoko saw red for over-celebrating but Walsall held on.
Gillingham wins: 45
Walsall wins: 43
12th April 2016 – Gillingham 1-2 Walsall – League One
Walsall kept their automatic promotion hopes alive with an impressive victory at fellow high-flyers Gillingham. Luke Norris spurned a golden opportunity to put the Gills ahead, when his first-half penalty was saved by visiting keeper Neil Etheridge. The Saddlers dominated the second period, with Milan Lalkovic’s curler and Jordy Hiwula’s calm finish putting them two goals in front. Norris’ stoppage-time bicycle kick proved too little too late for the hosts as Walsall held on to climb up to third in League One.
Gillingham Manager: Justin Edinburgh
The ex-Tottenham defender was appointed Gillingham manager in February 2015 and has won 35 of his 87 matches at the helm, posting a win ratio of 40.2%. Edinburgh, who spent ten years at White Hart Lane, masterminded Newport’s promotion to the Football League in 2012/13. The 46-year-old has also managed Billericay Town, Fisher Athletic, Grays Athletic and Rushden & Diamonds.
Gillingham Star Man: Bradley Dack
Highly-rated midfielder who was named the League One Player of the Year for 2015/16. The 22-year-old enjoyed a hugely-impressive campaign, scoring 15 goals in 44 appearances and winning five awards at Gillingham’s end-of-season dinner, including Player of the Year. The former Charlton academy player, who has netted twice so far this term, joined the Gills at the age of 14 and has made over 100 competitive appearances for the Kent Club.
Amadou Bakayoko is suspended. Maz Kouhyar is out, while Reece Flanagan and Rory Oliver are long-term absentees.
Based in Surrey, Breakspear took charge of the Saddlers’ 3-1 opening-day win over AFC Wimbledon – one of 11 matches he has officiated this term. He has brandished 57 yellow cards and four reds in 2016/17.
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