History will be written this weekend, as Notts County are set to play their 5,000th EFL game, as the Magpies travel to the south-east to play managerless Gillingham. This is their first game against each other since May 2015, where the Gills won 3-1 at Priestfield Stadium; attacking midfielder Graham Burke getting the away side’s only goal before Gillingham started scoring in the 88th minute.
Both sides were on the wrong side of a 4-1 result last weekend, with the Magpies and the Gills losing to local rivals Mansfield and Walsall respectively; both sides will be wanting that result to be put it in the past and get a big result on Saturday to regain their confidence. In terms of form, neither side have had great results in their last five games, with Notts just beating Gillingham in terms of the points they have obtained, picking up just three extra points. One thing to note from both sides is the number of goals they have shipped recently, the Magpies have conceded 14 in the last five, the second most in the league, and Gillingham have conceded ten, compared to the six they conceded in the previous eight games - with both teams struggling to defend, this game could be quite a high scoring affair.
Recently, Gillingham sacked their manager Neil Harris after guiding them to top after four games with four wins, but the club dropped to eighth before the club decided that his time was up. The Gills stated that they wanted to “go in a different direction”, after the side weren’t really scoring many goals, but were very good defensively. Since this statement, they haven’t brought in a new manager, and chairman announced on Twitter/ X that they have interviewed “20+ candidates” and he will be meeting “those shortlisted” next week, so, for the fixture this weekend, Gillingham will continue to be managed by interim manager Keith Millen, who has won one out of his three games in all competitions so far, beating MK Dons in his first game 2-1, but losing the last two games 5-1 and 4-1, the former against Portsmouth in the Papa John’s Trophy. In Millen’s previous stint as manager, he was in charge at Carlisle United, he lasted only 22 games, picking up just four wins, and getting sacked before the end of the season.
After missing out in the previous game, fans will be hoping to see key players Jodi Jones and Kyle Cameron return to the lineup, or at the very least, the matchday squad against Gillingham. Both have been very influential for the Magpies this season, Jones displacing Adam Chicksen on that left side, being a great playmaker out wide, and the skipper being the leader that he is at the back, but also adding that attacking threat from deep and becoming another attacker in our formation. Both were missed in our loss against Mansfield, and, hopefully, we will be seeing them again very soon.
Like Premier League side Arsenal, Notts County have two class goalkeepers who are fighting for that number 1 role in the squad. Experienced ‘keeper Sam Slocombe has taken the gloves for the last two games, conceding six against two very good sides, and impressing immensely against League One Derby in the Papa John’s Trophy. Aidan Stone, on the other hand, has started every league game up until last weekend, and has impressed with his confidence with the ball and distribution. Although Slocombe wasn’t at fault for most/ all the goals we conceded against Mansfield, it will be interesting to see if the gaffer goes back to Stone, or give Slocombe another chance to cement his spot in the starting 11.