League One Opening Day: Gillingham Underrated At Doncaster?4 min read
Gillingham’s decisive summer
Gillingham look underrated on day one.
Although there is a debate to be had regarding their quality up top, with Tom Eaves leaving for Hull this summer, the squad looks complete and ready to attack the division this August.
Goalkeeper Tomas Holy has been replaced promptly by Jack Bonham, who proved an excellent shot-stopper at this level with Bristol Rovers.
Right-back Luke O’Neill has departed but was replaced well by Lee Hodson, who has played in the Premier League with Watford; midfielder Stuart O’Keefe also brings top-flight experience and will offer the support to allow the talented Matty Willock to drive forward.
The Gills have loaned in talented centre-back Alfie Jones to provide competition for stalwart Max Ehmer and Connor Ogilvie, who also performed well in that position last season.
— Gillingham FC (@TheGillsFC) July 30, 2019
With nine of the 12 additions made by the 2nd July, most of the new players have had time to settle in the area, get to know their teammates and develop cohesion as well as fitness.
Plus, the fact the Kent club have played as many as eight pre-season friendlies – the same number Evans’ Peterborough side played prior to winning their first five matches last season – means every player has match sharpness.
Doncaster’s weakened squad
Doncaster have had their preparations disrupted by Grant McCann’s exit for Hull and while fans are happy to see Darren Moore appointed as the Northern Irishman’s replacement, they would have liked to see the club complete more than just five signings.
— Joe Thompson (@JT__90) July 10, 2019
Rovers have lost key loanees from last season – Mallik Wilks and Herbie Kane – without replacing either directly.
Marko Marosi, Danny Andrew, Andy Butler and Tommy Rowe have also departed while uncertainty lingers over the future of John Marquis, who has been their top goalscorer in each of the past three seasons – and it remains to be seen whether some of the players brought in are of the required quality.
In the interests of balance, Reece James is an adequate Andrew replacement while the enigmatic Madger Gomes has shown flashes of quality in pre-season.
Overall, though, Doncaster’s squad appears far weaker than it was last season.
They could fall victim to an ambitious Gillingham side that will be revved up to play direct balls into Mikael Mandron as early as possible and feed off the target man with touches of quality, with the likes of Mikael Ndjoli and Mark Marshall.
The visitors look the more likely to hit the ground running.
Tip: Gillingham +1 handicap
Read Gabriel’s League Two Opening Day preview.