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Can Gillingham avoid relegation this season?

Gillingham face a battle to avoid relegation from League One to League Two, while old rivals Millwall face a similar battle in the Championship



Gillingham are in real trouble. With just one win in 12 league games, the club are in need of a major lift ahead of what looks like a difficult period. Interim manager Peter Taylor, back for a third spell in charge at Priestfield Stadium, will try to help Gillingham climb the League One ladder in the coming months.

At the time of writing, the Gills are 23rd in the table; something has to change or Gillingham will find themselves in the fourth tier of English football next season. After surviving by the skin of their teeth in the 2016/17 campaign, supporters will be hoping for an easier time of things this time around.

Written off by most prior to the start of the campaign, it would be fair to state that the Gills have struggled so far this season. After losing star man Bradley Dack to Blackburn Rovers in June, it was always going to be tough for Gillingham to build momentum in the early stages of the campaign.

Unfortunately, they failed to replace Dack in the transfer window and he has been sorely missed. For example, the Gills have scored just six league goals so far this season – only AFC Wimbledon have managed fewer. A lack of creativity in attacking areas has plagued their chances of winning more matches.

However, there are reasons to be optimistic. Of Gillingham’s seven League One defeats, five have been by the odd goal – with a bit of luck, Taylor’s men will start to turn those losses into draws. In addition, they haven’t been too bad defensively, either.

The Gills have allowed 16 goals in 12 games, fewer than fifth-placed Peterborough United. With the exception of one poor performance against Rochdale, Gillingham’s defence has been relatively solid. A good defensive unit could make all the difference as the fight to avoid the drop intensifies.

In terms of local rivals, Millwall are perhaps the closest in terms of proximity to Priestfield Stadium and the thought of Gillingham facing the Lions in the near future may spur Taylor’s men on this season. With Millwall now in the Championship, Gills fans will be hoping that their rivals fall short in the coming months – a local derby should spice things up.

The bet365 Championship betting odds have Millwall at 7/1 to drop into League One ahead of the 2018/19 campaign and the possibility of facing the Lions should help to motivate Gillingham. For the supporters, the chance to stay in League One and compete against Millwall is a mouthwatering prospect. But, whether the Lions stay up or go down, Gillingham must avoid dropping into the fourth tier this year.

As things stand, it’s getting harder to believe this Gillingham side can beat the drop. With a complete absence of firepower, an overly negative tactical approach and a seemingly injury-prone squad, the signs aren’t good. But a change in the manager’s office, plus some serious investment in January (particularly in midfield and forward areas) and the Gills might just have a fighting chance of staying up.