Having pulled off an EFL Cup giant killing against Brentford, Gillingham will hope to avoid being on the wrong end of an FA Cup upset at home to Fylde in Tuesday’s first-round replay.
The National League North side held out for a 1-1 draw in the opening match, and the winners of this tie will be rewarded with a second-round battle versus Dagenham & Redbridge.
From failing to overcome a side two divisions below them to getting the better of an established Premier League outfit in Brentford, Gillingham fans have gone through all the emotions of cup competitions in just the space of a few days.
A trip to Mill Farm for their first-round clash with Fylde saw Mikael Mandron put Neil Harris’s side a goal to the good, but Tom Walker equalised in the 83rd minute for Fylde to force a replay before the Gills knocked Brentford out of the EFL Cup on penalties.
Gillingham’s unbeaten start to the month came to a swift end at the weekend, though, as they suffered a 2-0 League Two loss to Northampton Town to leave them dangling above the dotted line in 22nd place, just one point clear of Hartlepool United with a game in hand.
Harris has only managed to lead this week’s hosts to one win from their last seven matches in all competitions, and it has also been 10 games since their last clean sheet for a side who were knocked out of the FA Cup in similar circumstances last year.
Gillingham drew 1-1 with Cheltenham Town in the first round last year before going down 1-0 in the replay, and Fylde could sure do with taking a leaf out of the Gills’ manual on cup giant killings if this month is anything to go by.
This week’s visitors to Priestfield Stadium reached the third round of the FA Cup in the 2019-20 season, having also gone as far as the second round in 2017-18, so Fylde are no pushovers when it comes to this level of cup competition.
Andy Taylor’s men have seen their National League North fortunes improve in recent weeks, beating Peterborough Sports and Darlington either side of their draw with Gillingham, beating the latter 2-1 thanks to strikes from Walker and Nicolas Haughton.
Suffering just three defeats from their last 19 matches is an ideal preparation period for Fylde ahead of a trip to League Two territory, and goals could be on the menu this week, with both teams scoring in each of the visitors’ last six away matches.
Off-the-field matters will also come into play for the visitors this week, as Fylde have announced that a new head coach to take over from interim manager Taylor will be named on Monday morning.
Gillingham defender Max Ehmer was back on the bench at the weekend after returning from suspension, while Ben Reeves was also able to come on as a substitute after shaking off a knock.
However, Olly Lee has been dealing with tightness in his quadriceps and will need a once-over, while veteran goalkeeper Glenn Morris came off in the 41st minute against Northampton after landing awkwardly on his shoulder.
Jake Turner should therefore come back in goal for the League Two side, who may consider recalling the likes of Scott Kashket and Lewis Walker to the first XI in midweek.
Meanwhile, Fylde midfielder Curtis Weston – previously on the books at Gillingham – came off with an unspecified problem in the initial draw, but he recovered in time to play the full 90 at the weekend.
However, key midfielder Walker was replaced after just 43 minutes against Darlington with a hamstring tweak, and striker Danny Rowe also sustained a knock in the second half of that contest.
Fylde’s new head coach could therefore be forced into some unwanted changes here, with Luke Conlan and Siyabonga Ligendza waiting in the wings.
Gillingham possible starting lineup:
Turner; McKenzie, Wright, Baggott, Law; Jeffries, Williams, O’Keefe; Kashket, Mandron, MacDonald
Fylde possible starting lineup:
Neal; Whitmore, Obi, Bird; Burke, Weston, Philliskirk, Conlan; Haughton; Charman, Rowe