Tenacious midfielders and Steve Evans' 'reputation' - Expert insight on Sheffield Wednesday's next opponents Gillingham

Sheffield Wednesday welcome to Gillingham to S6 on Saturday for the first time in nearly two decades.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 12:00 pm
Gillingham manager Steve Evans is plotting a coupon-busting win for his side at Sheffield Wednesday this weekend.

But what do we know of the visitors?

We asked BBC Kent Gillingham commentator Benjamin Watts for the lowdown on Steve Evans’ men.

Gillingham are on a run of one win in nine - is that a fair reflection of their form?

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Gillingham have been unfortunate not to collect more wins of late.

Having lost three on the spin to Wigan, Wycombe and Sunderland, they beat Doncaster 1-0 at home, surrendered a two-goal lead away at Bolton to draw 2-2 and then failed to capitalise on a dominant second-half display in the goalless draw at home to Accrington.

Although wins have been in short supply, performances have improved in recent weeks and Gills head to Hillsborough having lost only one of their last five in all competitions and that in the EFL Trophy.

Steve Evans is known as ‘a bit of a character’ - is he mellowing at all as he gets older?

Steve Evans is still as passionate as ever, barking out instructions on the touchline, demanding more from his players or letting the referee know his opinion.

As a journalist, he’s great to deal with, because he doesn’t shirk any questions and he always gives you his honest opinion.

Evans gets a bad reputation for being vocal, but he lives and breathes every moment with his team and is of course a very knowledgeable manager at this level.

Who are the players Wednesday will most have to look out for this weekend?

Vadaine Oliver is Gillingham’s talisman in attack. He’s grown in confidence in front of goal during his time at Priestfield and has scored six times in all competitions so far this season, having hit 20 in the last campaign. Expect him to win a lot of aerial duels.

Kyle Dempsey the captain is very energetic and tenacious in midfield, he’ll look to press high and drive Gills forward with the ball. Classy young defender Jack Tucker has been playing in defensive midfield lately and has adapted extremely well.

What sort of system and style of play can Wednesday expect to come up against?

Steve Evans will likely opt for his preferred 4-4-2 diamond formation with the powerful John Akinde partnering Oliver in attack. Gillingham will aim to be compact out of possession and then get crosses into their front pair.

Long throws and set pieces are also a route to goal for the Medway men. It’s a fairly direct style, Gills certainly tend to frustrate opponents rather than monopolise possession, but it can be quite effective.

Wednesday have had to deal with clubs 'upping their game' on visits to Hillsborough this season..

Historically the Kent club are indeed a team who enjoy the challenge of facing the bigger clubs in the division. They’ve taken points off Sunderland on the road in recent visits, last season they beat Wigan twice, won at The Valley and collected away wins at Lincoln and Peterborough.

Gillingham boss Steve Evans certainly views Wednesday as one of the elite teams in the division and will respect the club's stature.

For Gills fans, this is a first chance to see their team play at Hillsborough since 2002 and they've already sold out their online allocation of tickets in the away end.