Gillingham v York City: Priestfield problems threaten Gills charge

First published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter

TITLE challengers Gillingham will be looking to address a faltering home record that is threatening to derail their npower League Two promotion push when York City visit the Priestfield Stadium tomorrow.

The Gills lost their long-time lead at the top of the division when visitors Port Vale beat them 2-1 in their last outing and Martin Allen’s men have now taken only one point from a possible 12 in front of their own supporters.

Surprisingly, given their lofty position, the Kent club’s home record is also only the tenth best in the table, having accumulated fewer points than 17th-placed Torquay and tomorrow’s game will see the hosts hoping to avoid a third successive league defeat on their own soil for the first time since September 2005.

Prior to the Vale loss, Gillingham went down 1-0 to lowly Barnet at Priestfield but will be looking to swiftly turn around their home fortunes with the visit of the Minstermen representing the start of four consecutive fixtures at their south-east stadium.

A return of nine wins, three draws and one defeat on the road have been the key to the club’s success this term, along with the division’s best defensive record of 23 goals conceded in 26 games.

At the other end of the pitch, Danny Kedwell is the Gills’ leading marksman with 12 goals but he had gone nine matches without netting prior to getting his team’s consolation against Vale.

Veteran former Derby and Sheffield Wednesday forward Deon Burton, now 36, has also contributed ten goals this term but has only managed to find the target once in his last five outings.

As a consequence, Cody McDonald, should he complete his loan move from Coventry, is expected to be preferred to Burton as Kedwell’s striking partner tomorrow.

Highly-rated midfielder Jack Payne, meanwhile, is not expected to play any part against City with a move to Crystal Palace in the offing.

If the transfer takes place in time then David Wright will travel in the opposite direction and take Payne’s place.

If it doesn’t, then Steven Gregory is in line for his first start since a transfer window move from Wimbledon as Payne’s replacement in the midfield anchorman role.

Allen otherwise has a fully-fit squad to choose from.

Team: (probable) Nelson, Fish, Legg, Barrett, Martin, Whelpdale, Gregory, Allen, Weston, Kedwell, McDonald.

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