Cobblers boss Page: Struggling Gillingham capable of regaining form at any time
Remember Millwall... that will be the message from Rob Page to his Cobblers players as they head to struggling Gillingham in Sky Bet League One on Saturday afternoon (ko 3pm).
Justin Edinburgh is going through a torrid time at the Priestfield Stadium, with the Gills having secured just one win in their past 11 league games, and accumulated just seven points out of a possible 33.
They have the joint worst defensive record in league one along with rock-bottom Shrewsbury Town, having conceded 29 goals in 16 games, and are 19th in the table - having opened the season with three wins in their first five fixtures.
The Gills have won just two home league games all season - the most recent a 2-1 victory over Coventry City on September 24 - and last Saturday had to come from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw and an FA Cup first round replay with the Cobblers’ Northants non-League neighbours Brackley Town.
A midweek 2-0 Checkatrade Trophy win at West Bromwich Albion at least stopped the rot somewhat, but Edinburgh is still under massive pressure as the Cobblers head to Kent.
Page accepts Gillingham are struggling and that it is a game his players can attack with confidence, but he is wary of their hosts, particularly as Millwall arrived at Sixfields last month in the middle of a similar run - and returned to London with three points after a 3-1 win.
“We have said this before against teams, and don’t forget we played a Millwall team that were on a poor run,” said the Cobblers boss. “It goes to show that at any given time team can turn it around in this division.
“Look at Rochdale. At the start of the season they were rock bottom, and now they are fighting for a play-off spot and have turned their form around. Any team in this league can do that.
“I played against Gillingham a couple of times last season and they were exceptional, with the same manager in charge, and he will turn it around for them, I am sure he will.
“We just have to make sure it’s not on Saturday.”
Although conceding plenty of goals, Gillingham definitely carry an attacking threat, scoring 22 times in their 16 league starts, and Page said: “We have to respect what they have got from an attacking point of view.
“They have some very good players, but we also have to try and exploit their weaknesses.
“We will have done our homework, we have seen the games they have played, and we will come up with a plan to try and win the match.”
One of the Gills’ main attacking threats is top scorer and right winger Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, who has scored eight goals this season and made many more, but Page is backing Town left-back Dave Buchanan to rise to the occasion.
“If you want somebody to go up against any winger that is in form, then I would pick David Buchanan,” said the Cobblers boss.
“I think he has been excellent, I think he is one of the best one-on-one defenders in the division.
“He has the record of the most consecutive starts at the club at the minute, and there is a reason for that because he wants to train every minute and wants to play every game.
“When you have a character like that in your team it certainly helps.”