Ahead of this weekend’s visit of Gillingham, we’ve been speaking to Lewis Browning, a football journalist and Gills fan, about their prospects coming to Sincil Bank.
How’s your season been so far?
It started quite slowly, but I think I speak for the majority of the Gillingham fan base when I say I’m loving life right now.
I’m enjoying going to Priestifeld again because our home form has been good, which couldn’t have been said in the last couple of seasons. Back in the day, we had a fortress, and it feels like that is coming back.
With the run we’re on, which I’ll touch on in a bit, it feels as if we’ve forgotten how to lose. It’s been a class campaign so far, and could get better yet.
And your form going into the game?
The best in the Football League – and I’m not joking. We’re 14 games unbeaten in the league and that’s only bettered by Liverpool in the top four leagues in England.
That run has included 7 wins and 7 draws. We’ve won three in a row now, and, funnily enough, those three are probably the worst games we’ve played during the run we’re on. It has to end eventually, though. It could be this weekend!
Who are your key players?
The defence is an absolute unit, to be honest. Jack Tucker will go for millions in the summer and we have the third best defensive record in the League; the back five as a whole have been key to our form.
Going forward we’re not necessarily as good, but I’d go for Jordan Roberts as our key man. He works hard and is our main source of creation at the moment, whether it’s for himself or the team, and from out wide or through the middle.
Keep an eye on John Akinde, too – although I reckon you might know a bit about him.
Any notable absentees?
Mark Byrne has been injured since last year and he’ll miss the rest of season after tearing his ACL.
The man that has stepped up in his absence is Stuart O’Keefe. He did miss a couple of games himself, but he came back, but then was missing again on Tuesday. We’ll see if he makes it this weekend. Apart from that, I believe we’re good to go. The squad is thin, but there are options there.
Who do you reckon is Lincoln’s biggest threat?
That John Akinde bloke? Jokes aside, it’s hard to pick one out. You have a good squad all round and the likes of Tom Hopper, Jorge Grant and Harry Anderson are names you always see popping up.
I bet you hear Jack Payne a lot, but he seems out of favour at the minute so I’m not sure he’ll feature. I know the new lad, Anthony Scully, did well at the weekend on his debut. I think he’s one to be wary of, too.
If I had to pick one player, though, I’d go with Anderson because I’m a big fan of his.
What do you expect from Michael Appleton’s side on the day?
Oh, they’ll be up for it. The form isn’t great, but it’s a young side, and what you often get with a young side is a complete commitment to the cause.
I’m a big fan of Appleton, mainly from his Oxford days, and I like the way he goes about his business. He, as a manager, has the ability to win this game for Lincoln. That’s not to say that Steve Evans doesn’t for Gillingham, though.
How do you see the game going?
We’ve started slowly recently so I wouldn’t be surprised if the first half is terrible. It’s later on that we seem to click into gear, at the minute.
I know Appleton tries to play good football but I expect us to be the better side. I’m not sure if that sounds arrogant and naïve, but we’ve got quite good at controlling games even if we aren’t playing great.
If I’m to go with my prediction you can see below, I reckon we go behind and equalise, however. Just have a hunch.
A prediction, please.
My heart says 2-0 Gills win, but my head says 1-1. We’ve drawn so many away games this season – 10 out of 16 – so it’s easy to assume we’ll draw when one comes around.
I’m a firm believer that an away point is a good point in this league, and I would take a draw this Saturday. A win would be huge for our play-off charge, but I just feel a draw is the most likely result.
How do you see the rest of your season panning out?
The ambition at this point has to be the play-offs. To be on the run we’re on, and to think otherwise, would be silly. We’re currently four points off them, but the main problem is that a lot of teams ahead of us are in good form too.
Admittedly, this season may come a little too soon, although I certainly wouldn’t write us off. Saying that, if you offered me eighth right now and a finish 12-15 points better off than last season, with two fewer games, of course, I’d take it.
It’s nice to be worrying about what’s above us rather than below us for once.