After only beating the drop on the final day of 2016/17, last season represented a slight step forward for Gillingham. Thanks largely to a much improved defence, the Gills finished six points clear of 21st in the end.
That said, 2017/18 marked the third time the Kent side have finished in the bottom seven since returning to League One in 2013 and, although they managed to plug their leaky backline to reasonable effect, they did only finish six points better off than the year before. Some promising new signings may raise hopes somewhat, but there’s still work to be done in building a team that can ensure a more comfortable campaign.
Save for a rather freak 5-2 final day win over Plymouth, Gillingham’s late season form made for frustrating reading, with a run of nine games without a win – five of which ended in defeat. Getting off to a solid start will arguably be even more crucial than normal. If they don’t, the pressure that they’re already under to an extent will soon come thicker and faster.
Last season: 17th in League One
In charge: Steve Lovell
A Gillingham legend from his time as a player at the club, Lovell took the manager’s job late last year. This is his first appointment in the professional game, having previously coached a number of non-League sides in Kent. The former striker netted over 100 goals for the Gills and also had spells with – among others – Crystal Palace, Millwall and Bournemouth. He won six caps for his native Wales.
Star player: Tom Eaves
Of Eaves’ 17 league goals last season, only one came in a defeat – which in itself says an awful lot about how indispensible the striker is to the team. They included what turned out to be the winner on both occasions as the Gills did the double over Charlton, while he also netted in impressive victories at Rotherham and Scunthorpe. At the age of 26, he’s entering what should be the prime of his career and he’ll have a key role to play however the coming campaign pans out,.
Key ins: Right-back Barry Fuller and midfielder Dean Parrett have signed from AFC Wimbledon, while youngsters Regan Charles-Cook and Brandon Hanlan - the former a right-back, the latter a striker - have joined from Chalrton. All four players have moved on free transfers, as has midfielder Callum Reilly, who returns following his loan spell from Bury last season.
Key outs: Midfielders Lee Martin – who was captain – Scott Wagstaff and Jake Hessenthaler have all been released, with Wagstaff since moving to Wimbledon and Hessenthaler to Grimsby.
Wycombe wins: 8
Gillingham wins: 6
First meeting: 04/09/1993 (League Two): Wycombe 1-1 Gillingham (Wycombe scorer: Keith Scott (p))
Last meeting: 04/02/2013 (League Two): Gillingham 0-1 Wycombe (Wycombe scorer: Matt McClure)