Date:Friday March 14 2008
15th March 2008
The importance of tomorrow's match at Gillingham cannot be underestimated. The Gills take up the 'final' relegation spot, one we are trying to avoid. We are currently one point and one place above Gillingham, whilst the Kent club have a game in hand over us. Defeat isn't an option for either team whilst a win could well set them on their way to safety.
It's been a long slog but it now looks like a two horse race for this League One survival battle. Mid-week wins for Cheltenham and Millwall pulled them away from the bottom four and the way the fixtures have worked out, they can only improve the gap this weekend.
Gillingham are currently in dire form. Just two wins since the start of the year has been accompanied by nine defeats in 15 matches. The Alex's own form has only been slightly better though with six defeats and two wins in fourteen matches.
There really isn't much to choose between the sides but you look at Tuesday's game against Vale and wonder if Gillingham really can be worse than us?
Gills boss Mark Stimson just wants to avoid defeat, as he told gillinghamfootballclub.premiumtv.co.uk:
'Saturday is a crucial match. The fans will be saying that. We just have to make sure that we don't get beat. It's more of a must-not-lose than a must-win. First and foremost, we want to win it. That is the only way that I know and I won't change that because I have got my beliefs as a manager and I will stick to them whatever position I am in. If we don't win it, we want the next best and get a point. This game isn't the be all and end all, as we still have that game in hand, but it will help us if we get points from it.'
Garry Richards is suspended whilst Danny Cullip & Nicky Southall are both out injured. Mark Bentley returns from an achilles injury. Otherwise Stimson has a full squad to choose from.
Former Alex defender Efe Sodje is currently on loan at Bury.
The Welsh midfielder had three goals in his last three games for the Gills.
Neil Cox, Ben Rix and Billy Jones are still out. Julien Baudet is still a major doubt. Shaun Miller is back training but unlikely to be in contention for a place.
Steve Holland has threatened changes after Tuesday's dreadful performance. It's likely that Nicky Maynard could partner Tom Pope up front, whilst Danny Woodards could return to right back.
Gary Roberts was in line for a return to midfield but has picked up a groin strain and looks set to miss out.
Time to find his scoring boots. The only player in the side who can finish, his goals will be absolutely vital if we're to stay up.
In the last eight years all games between Gillingham and Crewe at the Priestfield Stadium have ended 1-0 or 1-1.
Gillingham 1-0 Crewe
Hartlepool, home, March 14th 2008.
Date:Friday March 14 2008
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