Gillingham will travel to Fratton Park on Saturday to take on Portsmouth in League One with the aim of bouncing back from a disappointing midweek defeat against AFC Wimbledon.
Despite controlling large parts of the game, a late Jack Rudoni strike meant the Gills fell to a 1-0 defeat at Plough Lane, a loss that almost put an end to the team’s faint play-off hopes.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, Gillingham defender Ryan Jackson tackled the press via Zoom. Here are five of his key quotes.
“It was a disappointment. With how the game went and how we bossed the second-half, the result was a bit harsh, but we have to lick our wounds and try and go again.
“We were disappointed on Wednesday – there were a few home truths, and we are hoping it does not happen again. I could not see them scoring, and so late on too. It was a bit of a shock.
“It is down to inconsistency, but we are trying to work on that, and we know the players we have and need to replicate good results. You cannot let the lows get you down too much and you just have to try and bounce back.”
After some positive recent performances, Gillingham players and fans were disappointed with the overall showing and result at Wimbledon – a game they, on paper, should have won.
Gillingham’s recent form now reads LWLWL – inconsistency has hampered them this term and, if they want to do anything this season that needs to change quickly.
“It is frustrating because we know what we are capable of. But we cannot dwell on it, we have to identify the reasons why and try and do better and the best we can in the following game.
“It has been a strange season, and no one could have expected this was how it was going to be and at Gillingham we rely heavily on the fans as well. But we are trying to deal with it the best we can, just like everyone else.”
Gillingham have shown they can compete with the tops teams in League One this season but have been left frustrated with performances and results against the so-called smaller teams.
Again, it comes down to consistency, which the Gills need to put right.
On the play-off hopes
“We are an ambitious team, and we all want to be playing for something and we always go out to try and win. If we can string a run of results together, you never know what can happen.
“It is going to be difficult, but nothing is impossible. If we can better last year that is a good sign, but the target was play-offs. We always put pressure on ourselves to perform and get as many points as possible. It would be a hell of a run if we made it now.”
Gillingham now sit 15th in League One, nine points off sixth place Doncaster Rovers, but teams above them have several games in hand. Manager Steve Evans suggested after the defeat to Wimbledon that their hopes of reaching the play-offs are now dead but there are no doubts the team will keep trying until it is mathematically impossible.
Winning as many games as possible and seeing where they end up is all they can do.
On his season
“I have only missed one game through suspension, and I feel like I am getting stronger. I am still trying to organise and give the boys as much help as possible and hopefully that can lead to good results.
“Different formations allow different players to do different things. I do enjoy playing with Jordan [Graham] and allowing him to do his stuff, but when he is not playing it creates different opportunities. But I enjoy both roles and I enjoy playing with Jordan; we have a good connection.”
Jackson is in his second stint with the club after spending time at Priestfield between 2015 and 2017 and is a different player to last time.
Now 30, the full back is one of the more experienced heads in the team and has captained the side on a number of occasions this campaign in the absence of Kyle Dempsey and Stuart O’Keefe, playing well over 100 games for the club now.
He is a leader from right back and is vital to the team both offensively and defensively – he feels the extra responsibility, too.
“We are buzzing. It is a good place to go. Unfortunately there are no fans, but after the result on Tuesday we are going to try and out it right and bounce back.
“I have won there before at Newport and it was a lively game, but if we can perform as well as we did against the likes of Charlton, I am sure we will be able to get a good result.”
Portsmouth are fourth in League One, so this game will be a tough one for the Gills, but they won’t shy away from the challenge. They will have to be at their best to get anything, but anything can happen on the day.