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Opposition Profile: Gillingham

7 June 2017

A new feature where we take a closer look at who Rovers will face in League One next season.

Gillingham

Founded: 1893
Nickname: The Gills


Founded in 1893, Gillingham joined the Football League in 1920.

They were voted out of the league in favour of Ipswich Town at the end of the 1937-38 season, but returned 12 years later following the expansion to 92 clubs.

The Gills twice came close to earning promotion to the second tier of English football in the late ‘80s, prior to a period of decline, which almost culminated in relegation to the Conference in 1993.

Between 2000 and 2005, Gillingham did play Division One/Championship football for the only time in their history – achieving a club record highest league finish of 11th place in 2002-03.

Relegated to League Two in 2008, they then bounced straight back, before suffering relegation again in 2010, before securing promotion back into League One as League Two champions in 2013.

The Manager: Adrian Pennock

A boyhood Ipswich Town fan, Adrian Pennock started his career with their East Anglia rivals Norwich City, where he progressed through the youth ranks to the senior squad, making one first team appearance.

The defender joined Bournemouth in 1992 and was a regular for the Cherries, making over 150 appearances, until a serious knee injury saw him lose his place in the team.

In October 1996, he linked up with his former Bournemouth boss Tony Pulis at Gillingham, where he made over 200 appearances over the next seven years – captaining the club in the Division Two play-off final against Wigan Athletic at Wembley, which saw the Gills promoted to the second tier for the very first time.

A recurring knee injury took its toll and Pennock was forced to retire from league football in 2003 and he ended his playing days at Gravesend & Northfleet (now Ebbsfleet), where he became assistant manager.

In January 2005, Pennock was appointed manager of Welling United of the Conference South, before leaving at the end of the 2006-07 season to take up a coaching role at Stoke City.

He left at the end of the 2012-13 season and was appointed manager of Conference Premier side Forest Green Rovers in November 2013.

He guiding the club to a top ten finish in his first season and then into the play-offs in 2014-15, losing out 3-0 on aggregate to Bristol Rovers at the semi-final stage.

Pennock led Rovers to a National League record eight straight wins at the start of the 2015-16 season, but was relieved of his duties in April 2016, with the side sitting in second place.

In January 2017, the 46-year-old was named the new Head Coach of his former club Gillingham, where he had become a fans favourite during his playing days. He will remain in charge next season.

The Ground: Priestfield Stadium

Priestfield – or the MEMS Prestfield Stadium as it is known for sponsorship purposes – has been the home of Gillingham FC since the club’s formation in 1893.

The all-seater stadium was also the temporary home of Brighton & Hove Albion for two seasons in the ‘90s, and has hosted women’s and youth internationals.

The stadium underwent major redevelopment during the late ‘90s, which brought the capacity down from nearly 20,000 to the current figure of 11,582.

In March 2017, chairman Paul Scally reiterated his desire to relocate to a new stadium, stating that Mill Hill would be his preferred destination.

Last Season: 20th, League One

Adrian Pennock took the reins at Priestfield midway through the season and secured the Gills’ League One status by a single point.

Justin Edinburgh had started the 2016-17 season in charge, winning the opening three league and cup games, but was relieved of his duties on January 3rd, with the club 17th in the table, 10 points off the play-off positions.

A final day draw at Northampton Town preserved Gillingham’s League One status for a fifth successive season.

In the cup competitions, Gillingham earned a glamour tie away to Tottenham Hotspur in the third round of the EFL Cup, losing 5-0 at White Hart Lane, but made an early exit from the FA Cup in a seven-goal thriller first round replay away to non-league Brackley Town.

Last Meeting: August 25th 2009

There have been just nine previous meetings between the two clubs, with the most recent coming in the Carling Cup in August 2009.

David Dunn netted an early opener, Junior Hoilett grabbed his first goal in Rovers colours and Morten Gamst Pedersen scored direct from a corner, as Sam Allardyce’s side booked their place in the third round courtesy of a 3-1 win.

Striker Simeon Jackson, who would later play for Rovers, scored from the spot for the home side.


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