When Gillingham travelled to Edgeley Park last season, they came away with an Impressive 0-0 draw after being completely dominated by Stockport County. The Hatters had 74% possession, 17 shots and 7 corners to the visitors 26%, 2 shots and 0 corners, so although the goalless draw isn’t terrible, Gillingham will be looking to perform much better this weekend. The hosts are favourites going into the tie and the expectation is nothing less than three points.
At home last campaign, Stockport were extremely impressive and they accumulated 45 points, whilst only losing three times. These victories occurred thanks to Stockport’s brilliant goal scoring record last season, which was 1.42 goals per game, the 4th highest home average in the league. They also conceded the third least amount of goals per game at home which highlights how strong the Hatters are at both ends of the pitch. Stockport unfortunately fell short at the final hurdle last season, after losing on penalties in the play-off final against Carlisle United but head coach David Challinor will have high hopes for the season ahead.
The Hatters have experienced a pre-season of inconsistent results, however they have displayed some promising performances that will prove to be good preparation. Their best result is most notably against Championship outfit, Preston North End, where they executed the perfect game plan to claim a 2-0 victory.
Gillingham finished in 17th place last season, comfortably above the relegation zone. That said, their away record was abysmal and they actually had the second worst away record in League Two, winning three, drawing eight and losing twelve. If it wasn’t for the Gills’ above average defensive record, there is no doubt they would have been fighting for their lives as the goalscoring statistics stand out instantly. They had the lowest goals tally in league with an average of 0.78 goals per game, which equates to 36 goals in 46 matches (8 less than the second worst, Colchester United).
The Gills have had plenty of pre-season games to work on last seasons flaws, but they have struggled against any opposition of a similar standard. A 3-1 loss against Charlton Athletic and a 4-0 drumming against Cambridge United will be difficult to take on the chin, even though they won their most recent friendly 1-0 against National League side, Dagenham & Redbridge.
Despite last season’s results that went in favour of the visitors, Stockport County should win this game and I expect Gillingham to struggle against such a strong side when they don’t offer much goal threat. Even though, the Gills have signed new forward, Ashley Nadesan from Crawley Town, he isn’t a huge improvement on last season’s top scorer Tom Nichols.
Stockport have also strengthened their squad whilst also keeping hold of the majority of players who so nearly brought them success last year, bringing in Nick Powell and Louie Barry on loan from Aston Villa.